By Denise Etheridge, The Coastal Courier
Charles H. Morris, founder of Morris Multimedia, the Savannah-based company that formerly owned and remains affiliated with the Forsyth County News, was recognized April 12 at the 42nd annual Preservation Awards ceremony in Thomasville for his efforts to preserve the Kehoe Iron Works in Savannah.
The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation presented 29 awards recognizing the best of preservation across the state. The Trust is one of the country’s leading statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations. Its mission is to preserve and revitalize Georgia’s diverse historic resources. Awards are presented on the basis of the contributions of the person or project to the community or state and on compliance with the secretary of the interior’s standards for the treatment of historic properties.
“This year’s winners represent a tremendous dedication to restoring and revitalizing Georgia’s historic buildings and communities,” said Mark C. McDonald, president of The Georgia Trust. “We are proud to honor such deserving projects and individuals.”
Morris and Kevin Rose, the lead design architect for the Kehoe Iron Works restoration project, were notified by the Georgia Trust that the project received the prestigious Marguerite Williams Award. Rose’s colleagues, Rebecca Fenwick and Jerry Lominack of Lominack Kolman Smith Architects, accepted the award on Morris’ behalf.
The Marguerite Williams Award is the highest honor given by the Trust, and is presented each year to the project that has had the greatest impact on preservation in the state, Trust officials stated in a news release.
Morris’ Kehoe Iron Works project was recognized by the Trust for its large scale and the impact its rehabilitation has had on the Savannah community. The project also overcame significant challenges, according to the Trust, specifically the remediation of a brownfield site. Morris and his team also had to stabilize and restore the metal machine shop and masonry foundry buildings. Trust officials credit Morris’ “strong vision” for bringing the previously vacant 6.3-acre site back to life. From 1873 to 1902, an iron foundry and gas company stood on the site, according to the Trust.
Today, Kehoe Iron Works boasts 8,000 square feet of event venue space along with an outdoor plaza and amphitheater, Trust officials said. The complex has a view of the Savannah River.
Morris, Rose and their team also ensured that historic elements were maintained, through repair and reuse, according to the Trust.
“The central tower’s historic metal mansard roof and dormers were restored, and a replica widow’s walk and chimney cap were reconstructed based on historic photographs,” Trust officials said in a release.
Morris said that Rose, an accomplished sound engineer as well as an architect, understood what he wanted to achieve with the project, to not only preserve key historic architectural components but also to provide cutting-edge sound design for the space.
Morris said he began buying the property in 2003. The project itself took nearly five years to complete, he said. The estimated $35 million it cost to restore Kehoe Iron Works has been paid in full, according to Morris.
“I was determined to do it,” Morris told the Courier. “It’s given me a lot of joy.”