Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ground Breaking Ceremony for Currahee Military Museum Expansion Project

On May 27 at 11 a.m. the Stephens County Historical Society celebrated the beginning of the expansion project of the Currahee Military Museum. The project, funded with SPLOST dollars, will enable the museum to host larger conferences and meetings. It will also enable the museum to expand their displays. The Currahee Military Museum is located at the Train Depot in Historic Downtown Toccoa.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Toccoa Historic Commercial District Receives Statewide Award

ATLANTA, May 18, 2009— Toccoa Historic Commercial District in Stephens County, Ga. received an award for Excellence in Rehabilitation from The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation at its 31st Annual Preservation Awards ceremony Friday night in Augusta .

Urban Renewal practices of the late 1960s resulted in the construction of large concrete canopies in Toccoa’s Historic Commercial District. These canopies altered traffic flow and masked the historic architecture of the buildings in the district.

Beginning in 2007, Toccoa’s Historic Commercial District embarked on a two phase rehabilitation project. Phase I consisted of removing the concrete canopies, and Phase II reopened Doyle St. to vehicular traffic. The project increased interest in local preservation efforts and prompted a builder-training workshop, further exposing contractors to preservation techniques and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Additionally, the regional Historic Preservation Planner prepared preservation design plans for each building, and allowed owners of buildings suffering extensive damage the choice between rehabilitating their building to the style existing at the time of the concrete canopy construction or the style intended by the building’s original architect. This option resulted in a variety of architectural styles represented in the district.

Though early on this plan faced protests and debates, its implementation proved a success for businesses, residents and visitors of Toccoa. Since the project, the relocation of businesses to Toccoa’s downtown and a renewed interest in the surrounding historic residential neighborhoods continues. The rehabilitation of Toccoa’s Historic Commercial District shows that sound preservation policies strengthen local economies, instill confidence, and provide new opportunities for businesses and consumers.

For 31 years, the Trust has recognized preservation projects and individuals in the state who have made significant contributions to the field of historic preservation. Awards are presented on the basis of the contributions of the person or project to the community and/or state and on compliance to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

Excellence in Rehabilitation awards recognize projects that make compatible use of a building through repair, alterations or additions while preserving features of the property that convey its historic value. This year the Trust presented fourteen Excellence in Rehabilitation awards.

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the country’s largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations. Founded in 1973, the Trust is committed to preserving and enhancing Georgia’s communities and their diverse historic resources the education and enjoyment of all.

The Trust generates community revitalization by finding buyers for endangered properties acquired by its Revolving Fund; provides design assistance to 102 Georgia Main Street cities and encourages neighborhood revitalization; trains Georgia’s teachers in 63 Georgia school systems to engage students in discovering state and national history through their local historic resources; and advocates for funding, tax incentives and other laws aiding preservation efforts.

To learn more about The Georgia Trust and the Preservation Awards, visit

Monday, May 18, 2009

Main Street Toccoa recognized by Georgia Trust

Work completed last year in Historic Downtown Toccoa is continuing to garner the interest of the state.

At an award ceremony in Augusta on Friday, May 15, Main Street Toccoa received the "Excellence in Rehabilitation" award from Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, in which they recognized the canopy removal project and subsequent efforts to preserve downtown buildings.
Connie Tabor, Toccoa’s Community Planning and Downtown Development Director, and Chip Wright, GA Mountains RDC Preservation, received the award on behalf of the City of Toccoa at The Georgia Trust’s Spring Ramble, held at the Sacred Heart Cultural Center. Wright nominated Toccoa.

"It’s encouraging to see the interest state leaders have in our historic district," said Tabor. "This award shows that Georgia is pointing to Toccoa when they think of good examples of preservation policies being used to strengthen local economies and create new business and consumer opportunities."

"The 2009 Georgia Preservation Awards illustrate the best preservation activity in the state, and we are pleased to recognize Toccoa for its significant contribution to preservation," said Mark McDonald, President and CEO of the Georgia Trust.

The mission of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is to promote an appreciation of Georgia’s diverse historic resources and provide for their protection and use to preserve, enhance, and revitalize Georgia’s communities.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Main Street Toccoa marks 10 years of Accreditation

The National Trust Main Street Center has again designated Toccoa as an accredited National Main Street Program for meeting commercial district revitalization performance standards.

"We congratulate Main Street Toccoa’s Program for meeting our established performance standards," says Doug Loescher, director of the National Trust Main Street Center. Main Street Toccoa has been accredited nationally each year since 1999.

"Rebuilding a district’s economic health and maintaining that success requires broad-based community involvement and support, in addition to establishing a solid organization with sound management that is committed to long-term success."

National Trust found that Toccoa is utilizing comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and continues to carry forth their mission, foster strong public-private partnerships, and preserve historic buildings.

Since 1980, the National Trust has helped hundreds of downtowns across the nation reclaim the quality of life that only a thriving community center can provide. Through the Main Street Four-Point Approach to commercial district revitalization, which combines historic preservation and economic development, the Center has forged a nationwide movement for the revival of America’s historic and traditional commercial districts.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a non-profit membership organization that helps people protect, enhance, and enjoy the places that matter to them. For more information visit:

Toccoa welcomes Stone Mountain delegation

Toccoa Downtown Development Authority (DDA) members and City Commissioners welcomed a delegation from the City of Stone Mountain on Friday, May 1.

Community Planning and Downtown Development Director Connie Tabor gave a presentation to visitors, consisting of Stone Mountain city council members, Mayor, DDA board members, and Main Street Director, regarding the canopy removal along Doyle Street and the award-winning street re-opening project.

After the presentation, the group ate lunch at the Cornerstone Restaurant and toured the Toccoa Main Street District.

"While it’s always nice to share Toccoa’s success stories, it’s especially exciting to give advice and inspiration to communities who are looking to travel the same road as Toccoa as a Main Street City," said Tabor.

"The delegation is concerned about wooden canopies constructed a while back in the City of Stone Mountain, and they learned a lot by seeing what Toccoa has been able to accomplish."

Toccoa residents welcome Amtrak’s Crescent Line as part of National Train Day

The 6:15 a.m. Amtrak stop in Toccoa, GA was greeted by some 50 area residents on Saturday, May 9 as part of the City of Toccoa’s celebration of National Train Day.

Mayor Ron Seib, city officials and citizens welcomed Amtrak’s historic Crescent Line as it stopped in Toccoa on its way to Atlanta. Mayor Seib boarded the train and handed out information packets about Toccoa to the train riders.

AM 630 WNEG Radio held a live remote broadcast during the event and drawings were held for free round-trip tickets to Atlanta (donated by Ionosphere Travel Agency and won by Brian Bridges and Rebecca Harris) and a $2000 Amtrak voucher (donated by AM 630 WNEG and won by Chris Green).

Amtrak donated tote bags and a framed commemorative Crescent poster (won by Knox Holcomb) were also given away as part of the event in Toccoa.

"We want to thank Amtrak, Ionosphere Travel Agency, and WNEG AM 630 for their event sponsorship," said Downtown Development Director Connie Tabor. "And we also want to thank the community for coming out and helping us welcome this train to Toccoa."

A video of the event and photos can be viewed at: