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SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK MILL RESTORATION, LITHONIA, GA

Person looking at old building
Person looking at old building
Photo of old building
Person looking at old building Photo of old building

Client: Stevens & Wilkinson

Tucked away on an old trail once frequented by Native Americans and pioneers sits a piece of Georgia history established more than a decade before the Civil War. The Sweetwater Creek/New Manchester Manufacturing Company Mill in Douglas County had more than 100 employees at one time, and it was taller than any building in Atlanta when it first opened in 1849. But despite a relatively remote location, it didn’t escape General William T. Sherman’s troops during the War between the States and was burned after capture on July 2, 1864, leaving a set of ruins visited by curious locals ever since.

Restoration process

Aegis Restauro, LLC lead the $375,000 project, which aimed to stabilize the property. With an estimated 800,000 annual visitors to Sweetwater Creek State Park, the work included steel rods, new mortar and concrete caps with the aim of keeping the site safe and tour-ready for decades.

The building has seen its share of abuse. For example, it has long been ridden with bullet holes, but none stem from a Civil War battle.  “There was really not a Confederate presence at Sweetwater Creek State Park,” said Jordan, the park manager. “It was the Union Army that was here. All the local men had already left and went to war.”  Instead, most bullet holes came from the guns of locals using the site as an easy shot for target practice before the state park was established. Sweetwater Creek State Park opened in 1976 but was established several years earlier.  The holes are far from the only scar on the ruins, as still visible are warped bricks from the heat of the fire in 1864.

The mill also features architectural points typical of its place and time. For example, the windows were cut at angles to allow for more natural light as there were no light bulbs, and dust from the materials made candle light unusable.  From our modern perspective, it’s hard to imagine how something this significant could even operate,” Jordan said. “When this was built, it was the tallest structure in the skyline of Atlanta.”

In November of 2017, this project received American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia’s (ACEC Georgia) Engineering Excellence Award.

Services Provided: NOVA provided research and development of conceptual recommendations. Specifically, NOVA evaluated various repair procedures and methods, assisted with product selection, as well as project management and consulting services.

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