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City, SCAD team up again
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Springfield’s continued collaboration with the Savannah College of Art and Design could help pave the way for a historic district.
City council members have agreed to a project with SCAD that will produce a survey of historic homes and buildings in the city.

“It’s a new concept SCAD is trying to provide, and we may be the first ones to have it,” City Manager Brett Bennett said. “We’re getting, in my opinion, top quality work that would cost 10 times that.”

The city will pay SCAD $2,500 out of the current fiscal year budget and $2,500 out of the next fiscal year budget, which begins Jan. 1.

SCAD students worked on the project in fall quarter and each student was assigned a specific property. As part of their assignment, they had to document its history.

“These students followed this project through,” Bennett said. “That is a lot of work that either would have been done by volunteers or pay a professional thousands of dollars to have done.”

The student teams identified at least five historic structures, including the old jail, the Historic Effingham Courthouse, the Mars Theatre, the Springfield First United Methodist Church and the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.

Also part of the deliverables is a physical model of the proposed historic district.

“I believe establishing a historic district is part of the revitalization of the city,” Bennett said.

SCAD students also photographed and documented 107 homes in Springfield.

“But the idea is to document them,” Bennett said. “They identified 90 homes that they considered to be historically significant.”

Students looked at 107 lots, with 84 of them residential, 15 commercial and 13 public. They also had 14 missing properties, with six demolished and four abandoned. In all, SCAD students took 1,021 photos.

As part of the scope of work, the SCAD students will create digital models of the historic structures and put them on Google Earth.

Bennett said he’s had several calls on if the city has historic homes available to see. Having those homes put on Google Earth could lure more visitors to Springfield.

“It could be a potential draw for tourists,” Bennett said. “They see it on Google Earth and say, ‘I want to go there.’”

Having those historic structures mapped also will enable the city to map in order to protect them, Bennett said.

“This will isolate and protect the integrity of those homes,” he said.

To set up a historic district, the city also must pass requisite ordinances and set up a historic preservation commission before setting the boundaries of the district.

“You have to have all those forms filled out and sent to the (state) Historic Preservation Division to establish the historic district,” Bennett said.

Springfield residents Jamey Stancell and Betty Ford Renfro were discussing an initiative to document the town’s historic structures.

“It quickly became overwhelming,” Bennett said.

Bennett also said the presentation, conducted for Professor Jong-hyun Lim’s Technology of Historic Structure class, will be part of Lim’s exhibit at a global conference. Lim teaches historic preservation in SCAD’s School of Building Arts.