Brunswick leaders work to protect historic buildings

After demolition of Dart House, residents push for more protections

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Weeks after a historic building was torn down, Brunswick city leaders are working to prevent it from happening again.

City leaders could take steps Wednesday night to save buildings like the Dart House.

Some Brunswick residents are upset that the historic building was demolished. That includes the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce, which has owned the property since the 1980s. 

The owners said they couldn't afford to keep it and tried for years to avoid demolition. From there, city leaders tried to step in to save the building, but they were met with a roadblock. A proposed ordinance aims to change that.

The Dart House stood on Glynn Avenue for well over 100 years until it was demolished a few weeks ago.

The lot is now empty, a devastating sight for Casey Igel. Her great-great grandfather built the house in 1877. She tried to stop the demolition.

"I have not told my son because I just do not have the nerve to tell him,” Igle said. “Every time we drive by, he would say, 'Mom, have you saved the Dart House? Have you save the Dart House?' And I would say, 'No, not yet.'"

Igel said she and the Historic Brunswick Foundation, tried to raise the money to buy the house back from the Chamber of Commerce, but came up short.

"It's just devastating, it's sad.” Igel said. “It's shocking."

City leaders said the problem wasn't the Dart House itself, but the building’s location. Because it wasn't located in the historic district, protections to keep it from being torn down wouldn't apply.

Commissioners on Wednesday night will discuss an ordinance which would change all that. If it passed, the ordinance would give the city the right to delay demolition by up to 180 days, allowing time to come up with a solution. The ordinance would apply to buildings built before 1920 that are not considered to be dilapidated, which the city said the Dart House was not.

Despite the push to save the building, the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce moved forward with demolition.

"It hurt us as much as it hurt anybody,” chamber member Donna Gowen Pow said. “We love that building, but we were not in a position to continue to foot the expense of taking care of it." 

Wednesday’s city commission meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

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