February 17, 2010 - Antebellum mansions, urban landmark buildings and in-town neighborhoods have been protected by local historic preservation ordinances over the past quarter-century. But no such coverage has been extended to historic sites in rural locations. One such prime candidate for preservation lies less than 20 miles from Athens, just outside Watkinsville in rural Oconee County.
"The Elder Mill and nearby covered bridge are one of only two such sites in Georgia," says Russ Page, an Oconee businessman and farmland preservation activist. "Only six covered bridges in the state are still open to local traffic." The combination of mill and covered bridge is "very unusual and very significant," agrees Amy Kissane, executive director of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation, the local preservation group. "We need to be good stewards of such historic properties."
Although the Oconee sites are on the National Register of Historic Places, a federal listing of cultural resources worth preserving, and has a Scenic Preservation Designation, an overlay district of the county, neither listing offers any real, long-term protection.
Elder Mill and Covered Bridge is an ideal site to create a public park, a handful of Oconee citizens who have formed the Elder Mill Conservation Society believe.
For the story, go to: http://flagpole.com/Weekly/Features/ElderMillAndCoveredBridge-17Feb10.
[Our thanks to Tom Keating for finding this story - Ed.]