Berrien House Preservation and Restoration addressed to SCAD

Berrien House in the 1920’s in Historic Downtown Savannah, Georgia.


Both Andrew Jones, Berrien House owner, and I Gerald Cowart of Cowart Group Architects, are very anxious to share our unique restoration learning opportunity with local SCAD students and the Preservation community of our City.

The SCAD Historic Preservation Departments Chad Keller has reached out to us. We welcome SCAD’s involvement.

In the past SCAD Professor Jim Abraham’s students have done research on a needs assessment. The Arch History Department has also done research on the Berrien House in conjunction with Professor Davis Rossell’s Vernacular Symposium (vernacular architecture). Our office has done much additional research and is currently working on (with Bob Ciucevich and the help of HSF) the Historic Tax Credit application to the Georgia State Preservation Office.

We are in the process of meeting with builders and assessing the need for some additional minor exploratory demolition.  “We have as many questions as answers at this point.”  We have completed Auto Cad drawings of existing conditions. We now have our preliminary proposal for restoring the interior plan. Very preliminary exterior planning has been done which includes lowering to an earlier basement height and restoring the Broughton Street Portico.  These will be used for the SHPO Tax Credit submission. Both are very visible importance tasks and will be fertile opportunities for student research.

We have done a survey of existing plaster & lath in the house. There will be many aspects of the interior that we will fully survey and document including; sub-surface & foundation archeology, wall paper documentation, existing moldings, door and window surveys. These are our tasks, and are certainly opportunities for student involvement and community history lessons.

Whitaker Labs has completed a Hazardous Materials Assessment. A structural assessment is under way by RWP Engineering. RWP will be doing the structural restoration design and the new Mechanical Electrical and Plumbing design.

We are open to any opportunities for the community and SCAD to be involved.  As you may know I am an adjunct Professor of Architecture and would also like to get my design studio student’s involved next quarter.

This restoration project will be very visible and a great opportunity for collaboration within the SCAD School of Building Arts!!  SCAD Andrew Jones is happy to share this learning opportunity in exchange for access to the students work. Of course within reason, with proper insurance for SCAD folk and with respect for our schedule; at this point we are contemplating a construction start of selective demolition and building lowering in January/ February of 2013.

If the SCAD community has interest NOW is the time to step up. The Berrien House is circa 1795-1810. It is our intent that this be a Scholarly Restoration to its pre-1837 condition.

I look forward to hearing from you and making this Restoration process as valuable as we can to our community.

Gerald D. Cowart AIA, LEEDap

Principal Cowart Group Architects PC

Professor of Architecture SCAD

Quick character sketch by Gerald D. Cowart of the present condition, Berrien House on Broughton Street, Savannah. — at Historic Downtown Savannah, Georgia.