Steeples, Globes and Ballrooms Win at 2016 Athens Heritage Foundation Awards

Team Whitley, Hunnicutt House

Team Whitley, Hunnicutt House

This past June, Athens residents gathered for the 47th annual Athens-Clarke County Heritage Foundation (ACHF) Preservation Awards, for which W&A Engineering was a proud sponsor.

The event brings together a vibrant mix of local businesses, government leaders, architects, engineers, builders, preservation aficionados and history buffs, event sponsors, and volunteers to celebrate successful historic preservation efforts in the county.

Past winners from W&A’s family of local historic preservation-influenced projects have included Creature Comforts Brewery and 5&10 restaurant, as well as Jared York’s 1280 West Broad Street or their historical stewardship during building renovations.

History, Culture, and Character through Collaboration

Many of the stunning historic renovation projects over the years could not have succeeded without the spirit of collaboration and partnership ACHF works year-round to foster. ACHF engages local community members year-round, by asking local residents to open their historic homes for community events or asking knowledgeable historians to serve as tour guides for historic neighborhood tours. These events, such as the Holiday Gala or Athens Heritage Walks, frequently sell out.

The annual ACHF Preservation Awards have acknowledged over 450 local residents, business owners, and community groups for notable historic rehabilitation and restoration efforts throughout Athens-Clarke County since 1969. For the past 47 years these important projects have helped to preserve the history, culture, and character of historic neighborhoods in the greater Athens area.

Notable Winners in 2016

Nuci's steeple_after

Nuci’s St. Mary’s Church Steeple

The W&A team has chosen to highlight two 2016 winning projects for this blog entry that we feel are particularly influential to the community, and are important to us: The Nuci’s St. Mary’s Church Steeple, and the Hunnicutt House.

Nuci’s St. Mary’s Church Steeple

Nuci’s Steeple, originally St. Mary’s Church Steeple, has a famous history here locally as the only remaining original structure of the church where Athens-based supergroup R.E.M. played their first show in 1980. Because of its notoriety as the site of the first R.E.M. show, the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Athens, Georgia was listed in Rolling Stone’s list of Music Landmark Attractions in 2013.

Despite R.E.M.’s widespread popularity and iconic success in the music industry throughout the 1980’s, the Church was demolished in order to make way for condominiums in 1990. The Steeple was the only portion of the structure that was saved. The lone Steeple stood out in the open, unprotected, and was largely ignored until 2013 when the condominium homeowners association transferred the Steeple ownership to Nuci’s Space, a non-profit health and music resource center located directly next door. Nuci’s Space is dedicated to helping musicians who suffer from depression and other mental illness, as well as providing affordable support for the well-being of musicians.

Immediately following the transfer of ownership, Nuci’s Space began stabilization of the Steeple in 2013. Funds from Nuci’s Space alone were not enough to fully support the preservation of the Steeple. As a foundation who had provided much support for the Athens music community since the late 90’s, the organization in-kind, reached out to the legendary, supportive and close-knit Athens music scene in order to assist raising funds and awareness for the mythic landmark. Local Athens music celebrities rallied behind the cause including R.E.M, The B-52s, Pylon, Widespread Panic, Drive-by-Truckers, Of Montreal, and Neutral Milk Hotel, collaborating with Nuci’s Space to raise money for the preservation of The Steeple.

Check out Nuci’s Spaces’ video below, where local Athens music celebrities recount the efforts of the music community’s “Reconstruction of The Steeple” campaign.

Nuci’s Steeple Project Before and After:

Click Images to Enlarge

Hunnicutt House

In an exciting surprise, one of our very own clients and friends, Jessica and James Whitley, won an award for the architectural restoration of their home and local historic landmark, the Hunnicutt House. The Whitleys were recognized for their efforts restoring the historic home located on South Milledge Ave.

The W&A landscape architecture team worked closely with the Whitleys to design a landscape master plan for the property that would showcase the house, framing it with historically, period-correct and locally appropriate plant species. We carefully selected plants for privacy near the road, but specified smaller plant material for the foundation of the house so its beautiful historic character would not be hidden in future years.

More before and after photos of the exterior and interior of the Hunnicutt House can be seen on the ACHF website’s link to the entire 47th Annual Preservation Awards Ceremony.

Hunnicutt House Before and After:

Click Images to Enlarge

Other Great Winners

Click Images to Enlarge

Globe Project

The UGA Department of Geography won for its Outstanding Restoration of the giant globe in its building. Well worth a visit!

740 Nantahala Project

The residence at 740 Nantahala won an award for Outstanding Rehabilitation.

Half-Moon Outfitters Project

Breezer Molton and Half-Moon Outfitters won an award for Outstanding Adaptive Reuse of the old New Way Cleaners at 394 Prince Avenue.

Until Next Year

We look forward to supporting another great ACHF Historic Preservation Awards event next year! Until then, W&A Engineering will continue to seek out and contribute to historic renovation and rehabilitation projects throughout our community and state. Preserving the history, culture, and character of Athens is critical to ongoing economic development and ensuring the Classic City remains one of the best cities in the nation!

Below is a full list of the winners from this year’s event.

2016 Preservation Award Winners

Bolded names are the names of the actual award winners.
Italicized names are the historic names for the buildings, if they have one.

A description of the award categories can be found here.


  • Bertis Downs, James A. Harbin Grocery, 553 Prince Avenue
  • UGA Office of University Architects, Carnegie Library, UGA Health Sciences Campus
  • Jessica and James Whitley, Hunnicutt House, 1070 S. Milledge Avenue
  • Eric Vaughn and Scott Simpson, 670 Cobb Street
  • Mary and Chris Conley, 740 Nantahala Avenue
  • Urban Outfitters, Kress Building, 155 E. Clayton Street
  • Alessio Artuffo, DOCEBO, 160 E. Washington Street
    Howard Scott and David Poer, Clayton Washington, LLC, 160 E. Washington Street
  • City of Winterville, Carter-Coile Country Doctor’s Museum, 111 Marigold Lane
    Lee Hartle, Curator, Carter-Coile Country Doctor’s Museum, 111 Marigold Lane
  • City of Winterville, Winterville Center for Community & Culture, Old Winterville High School, 371 N. Church Street
    Jack Eisenman, Director, Winterville Center for Community & Culture, Old Winterville High School, 371 N. Church Street
  • Michele and Paul Matthews, Hodgson-Matthews House, 191 W. Cloverhurst Avenue
  • Ben and Coleman Barks, Skelton Bakery, 150 Barrow Street


  • Stephanie and Kirby Sims, The Georgian Hotel Ballroom, 247 E. Washington Street
  • UGA Department of Geography, Geophysical Globe, 210 Field Street


  • Beezer Molten, Half-Moon Outfitters, New Way Cleaners, 394 Prince Avenue
  • Carrie and Tim Kelly, The Rook & Pawn, 294 W. Washington Street


  • Oconee Street United Methodist Church, 595 Oconee Street


  • Nuci’s Space, St. Mary’s Church Steeple, 396 Oconee Street


  • Historic Cobbham Foundation, Cobbham Virtual Walking Tour