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Our First Historic Preservation Award

In keeping with our theme of recalling the last 25 years this is a good example of then and now.


In 1989 we received our first AIA Design Excellence Award for the Historic Restoration of the circa 1854 Bee-LaBey Home.

This river front historic Isle of Hope home was purchased by Dr. and Mrs. Fred Daniel’s, who still live in the home today. Recently the Daniel’s asked Cowart Group Architects to design a guest/carriage house to accommodate their growing extended family.

The house had been vacant for many years when the Daniel’s bought it. Its foundation had settled slightly and we discovered that the mortar in its brick footings had turned to powder due to years of rising moisture. In order to replace the footings without lifting and disturbing the entire house we excavated the brick work in 3’-sections and poured new concrete footings.

Recent comment from Dr. Fred Daniel:

“I highly recommend Mr. Cowart for your architectural needs. My wife and I used Gerald Cowart in 1989 to restore an antebellum home built in 1854. It was in terrible shape. His ability to hide the ductwork for central heating and air was most impressive to me, in this home that had never had central heating and air. Our completed design was awarded The American Institute of Architecture Award for Excellence in Architecture in 1989. We have a beautiful historic home that has retained its historic charm and yet is very comfortable to live in. We continue to be complemented to this day. 

We then rehired Gerry to design a 2000 sq ft addition this year, and it has been a joy to see his creation come to life. Gerry is very talented, easy to work with, respectful of the owner’s opinions, never domineering, and worth every penny he charges, which is often less than the competition! Hire him, and you will not be disappointed!”


In the 23 years since the restoration of the house, it looks as good today as it did when we finished the restoration. The successful completion of this restoration led to many outer restoration commissions and a number of historically compatible new homes along Bluff Drive and Parkersburg Road. (


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.

Back to “Emerald Point

In 1995 Cowart Group Architects was asked to develop a land plan based on Savannah’s Historic Context for a small residential community on a beautiful natural site. It overlooks the marshes of the Wilmington River, just east of Savannah, GA. The Development would be called “Emerald Point.”


The challenge was to create a high density neo-traditional land plan and to preserve the beautiful oaks and wetlands. We also wrote the Architectural guidelines to insure both historical character and environmental respect. 1995- Land Plan, Guidelines 1998- CE Hall Construction built this Cowart Group design.



1999- David Blurquiest builds Cowart Group designed house We designed two other homes, but have not designed there since 2000. The Neighborhood has matured well and the last of the lots are being built on. We are now “back” with CE Hall Construction and are designing a beautiful home on one of the more sensitive marsh lots. The home is for a couple and their two young children. They both work in Computer Science with The Savannah College of Art and Design.

emerald point


Habitat for Humanity: then and now

As Cowart Group Architects continues to recap our past 25 years we would like to recognize all the exceptional things that come along with volunteering for great causes. One of which is Habitat for Humanity (

We were first asked to be involved with Habitat back in 1993 with 3 residences that were in the path of Truman Parkway in the 600 Block of East 36th Street, Midtown Savannah.

The three houses were being donated to Habitat. The City had also donated three vacant lots in the adjacent neighborhood where Habitat for Humanity was going to move the houses. We were asked to design the new foundation and a renovated plan to update each. The drawing below is one of the Shotgun Houses.

Most recently we were asked by Dr. Blake Caldwell and Virginia Brown to help with a special project that was for a local organic farm where Habitat volunteers are involved. The Skidaway Farms Community Pavilion is shown below.

Community Pro Bono Design is an essential part of the culture of Cowart Group.  It represents our leadership in the field of Architecture.

It pays huge dividends for both the community and the firm; instilling pride and pleasure in all of the Cowart team.

We would like to extend an invitation to you to join Habitat for Humanity Savannah.

An Invitation to Join Habitat for Humanity Savannah

Skidaway Farms is very lucky to have many of its Farmers also be active volunteers in our region’s affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Habitat’s local Executive Director, Virginia Brown, a Landings resident and Skidaway Farmer, reports that many of her construction crew are Landings residents as well. Next month, the Farm will be the grateful recipient of the skills these handy folks have when they begin the work to construct our Skidaway Audubon Pavilion. This open-sided structure will be built in the middle of the Farm …right in Valley Crest Square.

Habitat for Humanity Savannah is always welcoming new volunteers to its ranks. So the Farm is encouraging those of you who have been thinking about giving some time to this altruistic organization to start by volunteering for this project at Skidaway Farms. Being so close to home it’s a perfect way to get to know how Habitat’s crews work and what you can learn from this incredible group of volunteers. Contact Habitat for Humanity Savannah at their website (, via email at or by telephone at 912-353-8122 for more information.

Given the cost of building supplies for the pavilion, the Farm is looking for financial support to get this job done in a timely manner. Farm Chair, Blake Caldwell and Event Coordinator, Cathy Adler has already launched the fundraising drive which they hope to conclude by December 31st. All contributions will be permanently noted by donor and category on a plaque within the pavilion itself. Tax exempt pledges can be made by check payable to Skidaway Audubon, 600 Landings Way South, Savannah, GA 31411. Please put “Skidaway Audubon Pavilion” in the memo line.

If you would like to find out more about supporting this incredible project, contact Cathy Adler at or Blake at

Cowart Group Pro Bono Work

We are proud to give our talents to needy and worthy causes. We find this benefits all of us as well as our community.

  • Skidaway Farms Pavilion, Habitat for Humanity, 2012
  • St. James School Signage and Fencing, 2012
  • Cyuler – Brownville, HFC, USGBC, Habitat House, 2012
  • St. James School and Church – Master Plan 2010
  • Park Place Outreach – Home for Runaway Teens 2008
  • Savannah Parent & Child Development & Design for 2 Children’s Playhouses 2001
  • Hope House, Inc. – Transitional Housing Study 2001
  • Maggie B. Ford Daycare Ctr. – New Facility Study 2001
  • St. James School Library Addition 2000
  • Faith on the Move Ministries – Fire Damage Renovation 1999
  • Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church – Life Safety & ADA Study 1998
  • Bethesda Home for Boys – Dormitory Renovation & Master Planning for Future expansion 1997
  • Beaufort Family Resources-Spring Island home for Girls 1997
  • Skidaway Is. Youth Athletic Assn. – Athletic Field Comfort Station/Storage 1997
  • Bluffton Children’s Center – Renovation of Community Daycare Facility 1996
  • St. Anthony’s Catholic Church – Handicap Ramp 1996
  • Whitesville Community Association – Community Center Conceptual Study 1996
  • Skidaway Island Village Library Foundation – New Community Library 1995
  • St. Vincent’s Academy – New Elevator Shaft & Office Space Design 1994
  • St. James Catholic Church – New Rectory 1993
  • Habitat for Humanity – Construction Documents for 3 Houses 1992
  • Parent & Child Development – Youth Estates New Cottage 1990