Former Bowen home to be demolished
by Celia Shortt
The home of Newnan’s late, longtime educator and civic leader, Sarah Louise “Sally” Bowen, is set to be demolished following a recommendation by Newnan’s city staff to the city council.
Newnan City Manager Cleatus Phillips informed the council at its July 8 meeting that staff had sent out an RFP soliciting bids for the demolition of Bowen’s former home at 125 LaGrange St. and had received one bid of $19,000.
Newnan City Council member Clayton Hicks asked Phillips if this project was out of the city’s scope, causing them to send out a bid. “It’s a very difficult demolition,” Phillips responded.
He said the difficulty is because of the proximity of the house next door, and the city was not comfortable doing it. A $19,000 lein – to cover the expenses – will be placed against the property.
The council approved Phillips’ and the staff’s recommendation.
In September 2013, the roof of the house at 125 LaGrange St. split along its crest. Laura Rivers had owned the house for 15 years, and according to Shane Pridgen, an inspector for Newnan, Rivers was “unaware of the situation” when he first notified her.
He said she was working with her insurance company to determine a solution.
At a November council meeting, Rivers was granted a 90-day extension, with some additional stipulations, to repair the house. The council wanted her to give two-week updates to ensure communication between all the parties.
She reported at the meeting that the house had been inspected, and the only damage seemed to be the roof. The rest of the house – walls and foundation – was still structurally sound. She also said the house had been looted and broken into, but she was still working to restore it.
At the Dec. 17 council meeting, Newnan City Attorney C. Bradford Sears told the council it appeared that foreclosure proceedings on Rivers’ property had begun. Pridgen also reported neither Rivers nor her insurance company had communicated with the city since the Nov. 26 meeting.
Also since November, no work on the house had been completed.
At the May 13 city council meeting, Pridgen reported he had heard from Rivers but was not given permission to assess the damage inside the house. He was able to assess the damage on the outside of the house, and it was estimated to cost more than 50 percent of what the house is worth. The council then approved a 30-day resolution to repair or demolish rather than a 45-day resolution.
“Why 30 days instead of 45?” asked Newnan Councilmember Dustin Koritko at that meeting.
Pridgen replied the situation with the property had dragged on long enough. Newnan City Mayor Keith Brady also said there were concerns from residents next door that Bowen’s former home was in such poor shape, one day it could just collapse and land on the neighbor’s property.
Bowen died after a long battle with cancer in 1999. A native of LaGrange, she moved to Newnan as a preschooler and graduated at the top of the 1943 class at Newnan High School.
Bowen held degrees from Wesleyan College, Duke University and West Georgia College – now the University of West Georgia. She also studied at Emory University, the University of Kentucky and the University of Georgia.
Bowen taught Latin and social studies for 45 years before retiring in 1992. She taught at Atkinson Grammar School, Newnan High and the Heritage School in Newnan, at Oak Mountain Academy in Carrollton and at J.C. Booth Middle School in Peachtree City.
She was active in civic and church life in Newnan throughout her adult life.