Save The Choo Choo Building!

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It was an honor this week to have my open letter to Savannah’s Mayor & City Councilmen published in the newspaper, CONNECT Savannah¬†regarding what has been a several year battle over saving the 1929 SEABOARD Freight Station which is a stone’s throw from The Roundhouse Complex, the old Central Railroad of Georgia facility that is now an interactive museum. Nearly every historic city with reminders of the past like this, confront these battles, often losing to developers who have all of the money, legal team and in many cases, the legal right to do as they please. Savannah, however, has a protected Historic District, of which the SEABOARD building is outside of, and to be honest? This one at some level may be on the shoulders of Historic Savannah Foundation in that they haven’t much expanded the vision to include these peripheral structures but am not here to sort out the faults on that as they’re certainly weighing in on the fight. They’ve even offered up some beautiful alternative proposals to what the developer originally offered (SEE GALLERY). Cost wise the developer saw no way to have an effective property here and the plan was to demolish the building and build your standard fare, overpriced hipster apartment complex that as a genre, continue to ruin cityscapes and skylines across the world offering no connection to the surrounding neighborhoods. I will spare the reader here how my view is that this “trend” is part of The United Nation’s push through various foundations and Agenda 21 to influence politicians and planners to show preference to these sorts of structures and their developers, but I do hold that viewpoint and encourage others to read more about the subject.

All the same, it appears that through much rabble rousing from various individuals in the community, leadership alike, the developer JSR Properties, LLC (aren’t they always), has felt the pressure and has responded by promising to present a new plan to The City of Savannah that includes the building! Empty promises? We shall see! But I like to think my letter is another spiritual tip of the hat to not only the effort of saving the building, but a nod to my friend Lee Adler, founder of Historic Savannah Foundation and board member of The National Trust. He was a legend in his lifetime but also a special friend to me and although he’s no longer with us sadly, the good work must continue through individuals¬†making efforts large and small. I know he’d be proud of everyone doing their part. My letter below with original link:
READ Original Letter Here

Open letter to Mayor and Council about the Seaboard Freight Station

Honorable Mayor DeLoach and Aldermen,

As a tour company owner and operator in Savannah, I often tell my guests that in order to truly appreciate Savannah, you have to understand that it’s not only a story of what’s here but also what’s left. It’s a war story of sorts.
We’ve lost The Mulberry Grove. We’ve lost Mary Musgrove’s Savannah Town. We’ve lost The Hermitage.
A lot has been lost. Too much to list really and lots of arguments as to why they were. Everyone’s got an angle or an agenda or a right, etc.
I don’t know much about the Seaboard building to be honest. I don’t have any romantic stories about it.
I just know that I like driving by it and then glancing at the other nearby railroad buildings of history. And while it seems a little lost sheep where it sits, it just makes sense that it’s there.
I’ve always felt a sort of satisfaction that it exists and that it speaks esthetically and historically to that side of town where so much life and commerce was oriented around it. That it was part and parcel and even central.
It’s really more monument than building at this point. It’s sacred space somehow.
To knock it down in my view is a crime even if the letters have been dotted and the T’s crossed. Albeit it isn’t The Davenport House, I do wonder in this day and age, where are those ladies or people willing to stand in front of the wrecking ball? Have we all gotten so comfortable?
I realize that leadership is often a thing where one’s hands are tied. But why is it that it seems that this developer didn’t have more vision to include it from the beginning?
No architectural class or tour will ever make a point to marvel at another blightful residential complex in our town.No tour company 100 years from now will ever race to show it to their guests. No books will boast of its architect.
In fact, in my opinion, it would be quite the opposite. It would be discussed loathingly as part of the “Atlanta” or “Charlotte” trend of building ugly condos up that tower and overshadow the nearby neighborhoods and have no connected feeling.
And that the leadership allowed a beloved structure to be sacrificed for them.
If the Seaboard is to be demolished, that might also be seen by the developers as a victory for more. More as in other buildings will meet the same fate and more will be lost.
And historians and storytellers like me will have to bemoan the leadership who didn’t fight harder to both hold the line for that loss and then push for a better vision. Your names will in effect, be tied to one of those outcomes forever in the history books.
So I say let there be development, but push for a vision that keeps a valuable member of the family.

Shannon Scott/Shannon Scott Tours

GivingTuesday For The Bonaventure Historical Society

 

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Although I’ve reservations about some of the controllers and operation tactics of PayPal & Facebook, one has to give credit where its due and there’s no denying how both came together along with the obvious support of the cemetery’s loyal fans to help The Bonaventure Historical Society. When I saw that Facebook and PayPal would be matching funds donated for the first 7 million dollars raised, naturally I sprang into action and launched Gracie’s #GivingTuesday Fundraiser and made the first donation just to see what might happen. Well I couldn’t have been more pleased obviously when I saw us make the $500 goal and then exceeded it by another $245.00. I am unsure if we fell into the “match” areas or not but at minimum, $745.00 wasn’t half bad for a day out with the dead. And in such a small city like Savannah where it lacks overall population, a broad youthful one at that, and then city laws and those budget constraints, every bit extra helps. For some time now, I’ve been adding a donation button to many of my Facebook posts as its an easy thing to add asking for contributions to The Bonaventure Historical Society and also reminds me to donate when I’ve got the spare change! The sad epilogue for me though was learning that the Director, Lee Maltenfort had passed away unexpectedly in August of 2018. As I was visiting my family in Illinois, I received the news rather late and was bummed to think I could not share the good news with him. But in my own way #GivingTuesday, Dec 3, 2018 dedicated to Lee, who was so passionate for Bonaventure like no other really and he will be sorely missed. Like Bonaventure Cemetery itself, Lee Maltenfort was one of a kind and irreplaceable. I’ll write about him soon and Rest In Peace Mr. Maltenfort. We’ll carry on the good work. Please consider making a donation in his name or joining at www.bonaventurehistorical.org

From Left, Greeter Stacy Doty (RIP), Lee Maltenfort (RIP) and Lee’s lovely widow, Judy.