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V.I.P. ~ Vessel In Peril ~ A Kit Jones Update

ATLANTA, Nov. 15, 2017— The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation released today its 2018 list of ten Places in Peril in the state.

Sites on the list include: A.J. Gillen Department Store in Maxeys (Oglethorpe County); Bibb City Elementary School in Columbus (Muscogee County); Cuthbert Water Tower in Cuthbert (Randolph County); Fire Station No. 2 in Rome (Floyd County); Fort Valley Freight Depot in Fort Valley (Peach County); Foster-Thomason-Miller House in Madison (Morgan County); Kit Jones Vessel constructed on Sapelo Island (McIntosh County); National Library Bindery Company in Atlanta (Fulton County); Olmsted Linear Park Properties in Atlanta (DeKalb County); and Underground Savannah (Chatham County).

"This is the Trust's thirteenth annual Places in Peril list," said Mark C. McDonald, president and CEO of the Trust. "We hope the list will continue to bring preservation solutions to Georgia's imperiled historic resources by highlighting ten representative sites."

The Friends of the Kit Jones Steering Committee, along with their guest; Author & Historian, Buddy Sullivan, attended the Georgia Historic Trust Places In Peril Unveiling Reception on November 15th at Rhodes Hall in Atlanta and were honored to receive the designation for the historic vessel Kit Jones as a “2018 Place In Peril”.

Places in Peril is designed to raise awareness about Georgia's significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources, including buildings, structures, districts, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy.

Through Places in Peril, the Trust encourages owners and individuals, organizations and communities to employ proven preservation tools, financial resources and partnerships in order to reclaim, restore and revitalize historic properties that are in peril.

The Unveiling Reception was preceded by an informational session for the ten “Class of '18“ Places In Peril designees. The session was the first of its kind as the Georgia Trust hopes to become more engaged in assisting the nominees with their projects. “This year is a year when we are going to work even more intensively with people to preserve these places,” said Mark McDonald, president and CEO of the Georgia Trust. “We are signing a memo of understanding with each group outlining our shared expectations and understandings.”

Neale Nickels presided over the gathering and presented a slideshow highlighting each site. Representatives of each location were invited to speak about their particular projects. A ‘point person’ was assigned to each project, and in the near future, the Georgia Trust will meet with each group, develop a work plan and schedule on-site meetings.

Not long ago, the Kit Jones weathered Hurricane Nate while resting in Biloxi, MS and fared just fine. Her steel rigging had recently been removed in preparation for the stabilization phase of her restoration process. The next steps involve strengthening her hull and then removing the Pilot House and other superstructure. “This temporary removal is necessary for the vessel to meet DOT height restrictions and so she can squeeze under the highway overpasses,” said Kit Jones Steering Committee member Paul Glenn.

The project was recently awarded a $10,000 Georgia Tourism Grant, which will begin the process of stabilizing her for the trip back to Georgia. But that is only a starting point and the clock is ticking. In accordance with the guidelines of the grant, the scope of work must be completed within one year; there are only seven months left.

“We are applying for additional grants now that the Kit is a designated ‘Place In Peril’, or as we like to say, a V.I.P. (Vessel In Peril), but those take some time to pay out”, said Friends of the Kit Jones President, Davis Poole. To help fund her trip back to McIntosh, which will cost over $50,000, they are offering sponsorships for each leg of her 543 mile journey home.

It is an enormous undertaking to stabilize and transport a vessel of her size back to GA. Unfortunately, her hull structure cannot be made seaworthy, so she must be brought over-the-road, on oversized equipment, with police escorts through each state. This will be quite a sight to behold as she is 60 feet long, and will require an additional flatbed truck just to haul her rigging back to Darien.

The Kit’s first destination will be situated near the McIntosh County Sheriff’s Department/Industrial Development off I-95 (exit 49) in Darien. Her restoration work will begin there while a final resting place is determined. They are currently working with the Darien DDA and Chamber of Commerce to iron out details. “While we would love to see her situated back near the historic Darien waterfront, the scheduled bridge reconstruction may limit this opportunity” said Poole.

The goal, upon restoration, is to establish her as a historical/educational destination for hands-on learning. Additionally, they hope to create a Maritime Museum, with the Kit Jones as the founding vessel.

The Friends of the Kit Jones is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. All tax-deductible contributions are welcome.

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