MARIETTA IS A FANTASTIC PLACE TO work, and play. There are excellent restaurants, unique shops, great galleries and museums, and charming historic neighborhoods. More people are visiting and moving to Marietta every day. They are drawn to the things that make Marietta truly unique, and whether people realize it or not, one of the biggest draws is Marietta’s historic buildings. The paradox is that the more popular Marietta becomes, the more our historic buildings are threatened by redevelopment.
Marietta has recently seen the loss of several beloved landmarks, most noticeably the Fowler House and an original Brumby Chair Company cottage, both located on Church Street. As construction of new homes, offices, restaurants, and retail space increases, so does the threat of demolition for historic buildings. So, how do we encourage growth while preserving what makes us unique?
In recent years, Marietta’s Historic Preservation Commission has worked tirelessly to establish local historic districts throughout Marietta’s residential neighborhoods. The districts help define Marietta’s historic neighborhoods and identify “contributing” or “historic” structures located in those neighborhoods. Those properties are then protected by regulations similar to covenants used in modern residential developments. The regulations help to maintain the historic look and feel of the structures, and help safeguard the buildings from demolition.
Downtown, historic preservation can be a great way to encourage developers and businesses to find creative ways to reuse old buildings. For example, Glover Park Brewery recently opened just off of the Marietta Square on Atlanta Street. Rather than construct a new building, they chose to rehabilitate a derelict 1930s Sears, Roebuck and Company building, which had been significantly altered through the years and was at one point gutted by a fire. They restored the period brick facade and added historic character back to the interior spaces by using reclaimed materials and fixtures.
Marietta is a wonderful community, and I have no doubt it will attract new residents and businesses in the future. We just need to remember that our historic buildings deserve to be preserved for those future generations to enjoy.
Image: Marietta's 1920s Fowler House was demolished on March 15, 2019.