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Concerns voiced over county annex

Historical Society wants building to complement N. Main St. architecture

Concerns voiced over county annex

Concerns voiced over county annex

    With Palmer Architects receiving approval from Bulloch County commissioners earlier this month to proceed with final design of a new administrative annex, members of the Bulloch County Historical Society want to be sure the North Main Street building is an appealing complement to the current architecture of one of Statesboro’s primary corridors.
    “It is not often in one's lifetime in a small Southern town that a monumental building is constructed that will be part of the landscape for many, many years,” said Virginia Anne Franklin, a longtime member of the Historical Society.
    The new annex would be built next to the county’s current North Main Annex building, across the street from First Baptist Church. Kevin Palmer, the founding principal architect of Statesboro-based Palmer Architects, said the 13,000-square-foot annex would be situated on the property to allow for another building if expansion is needed in the future.
    “Many of us in the community were excited when we learned that Bulloch County Commissioners would acquire property on North Main next door to the exiting Bulloch County Annex,” said Joe McGlamery, the president of the Bulloch County Historical Society. “Getting rid of the old restaurant and motel buildings gave the county space for needed expansion and provided an opportunity to erect a building to complement the traditional architecture of both the existing county annex and the new First Baptist Church sanctuary across North Main Street.”
    Several members of the society and other interested parties met recently with three county commissioners and Palmer Architects principals Kevin Palmer and Garth Long. They expressed their opinion that because the existing annex and the new building would sit side by side and be connected to each other by a passageway, the design should mirror — as much as possible — the existing annex, originally built to house the Statesboro First Federal Savings and Loan Association.

Pitched roof
    “Personally, I would prefer to see a pitched roof on the new building, use of the same brick pattern, the same column design and window treatment as the current annex,” said McGlamery, who also is president of the Statesboro Herald. “In the end, I hope the community will enjoy a new public building that would complement this part of North Main Street. Everyone is anxious to get started, but I hope we will take the time to get this one right.”     Franklin echoed McGlamery’s sentiments.
    “At my first glimpse of the drawings, I immediately thought of our post office,” she said. “I would love to see a pitched roof on this building and perhaps some of the influences of the old First Federal building such as the limestone keystones and ionic columns. I am very, very glad that these renderings include a large amount of green space and are pedestrian friendly.”
    With a budget of approximately $2 million, and County Manager Tom Couch hoping competitive bidding on parts of the project brings the cost down, Palmer said a pitched roof on a building of such magnitude would drive up the costs significantly.

Design changes
    After presenting conceptual drawings at the commission meeting May 7 and following the meeting with Historical Society members, Palmer made some changes to the design taking into account concerns raised at the meeting.
    Palmer outlined the changes in an email he sent to residents who attended the meeting:
    “I added some cast stone at the cornices, revised the columns, changed the parapet heights, increased the head height of several windows, added a new brick ‘entry border,’ added several lamp posts (that match the ornamental ones downtown) and tweaked a lot of the brick work and massing. I really focused on getting some of the more traditional elements into that entry piece and trying to adjust the scale.  I lowered the glass storefront at the entry and reduced the size of the canopy.”
    During the meeting, both Palmer and Long stressed that they, too, as Bulloch County natives, want the building to reflect the best architecture of North Main and of the City of Statesboro.
    “We want to design a building and space that will be a source of pride in the community long into the future,” Palmer said.
    The county would pay for the building using remaining funds collected by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax levied in 1997 and 2007. Palmer will present a final schematic design at a commission meeting in the near future, and commissioners must approve the final design before it is let out for construction bids.
    “I certainly would like to thank the committee for their exterior design input,” County Commissioner Roy Thompson said. “Common sense tells me not everyone would be satisfied with a perfect design and building, but I feel that Palmer Architects has worked diligently to design a building that enhances the county and city.”

    James Healy is operations manager for the Statesboro Herald. He may be reached at (912) 489-9402.

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