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County receives state preservation grant
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Governor Sonny Perdue recently announced recipients of the 2008 Georgia Heritage Grants for historic preservation projects across the state.

The Newton County Historic Preservation Society received a $9,006 matching grant from the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for the county's oldest brick building, Brick Store.

A total of 11 of the 31 applications submitted were accepted for a total of $102,348 awarded throughout the state.

NCHPS member Debbie Bell said about six months of preparation went into applying for the grant.

"This particular grant will be primarily used to pay an architect - one who specializes in historic preservation - to prepare a structure report assessing what needs to be done as far as repairs and also probably working out a budget for those repairs," Bell said.

Brick Store originally functioned as the county's first courthouse, a store and early stagecoach stop.

Bell said in the 1850s the building housed a thriving carriage shop.

As a stagecoach stop, Brick Store was a crossroads between thoroughfares heading toward New Orleans, Savannah, Augusta and Charleston.

"Our ultimate goal is to create sort of a museum that revolves around transportation," Bell said.

The NCHPS is also in the process of applying for a much larger Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Department of Transportation. If awarded, the grant could possibly provide up to $250,000, which would fund the repairs recommended by the preservation architect who authors the structure report.

Bell said the DOT requested more information about the line of ownership after NCHPS turned in its initial package.

She said the requested information is almost ready to send, but it could potentially take a year to hear word on whether the society will receive the grant.

Bell and other members are also working on nominating Brick Store to the National Register of Historic Places maintained by the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.