Making A Difference – What HAF’s About

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You might have heard the HAF board has been busy lately – let me tell you more!

Our name says it all – HAF’s mission is to protect and preserve the historic assets of Aiken. The Secretary of Interior Standards defines “historic” as greater than 50 years old, and HAF uses that as the basis for deciding whether to develop a position in a given situation. A younger building or public feature might be important to our community but would not fall within HAF’s scope and area of expertise to comment on. This situation arose recently regarding a mural in The Alley. The mural is from the mid-1980s, thus not historic by SIO Standards. When asked if HAF had a position on whether it should be removed or not, we responded that it isn’t historic, and therefore HAF did not take a position on removal. That decision correctly belongs to the building owner and the City of Aiken Arts Commission, which agreed the mural could be removed.

HAF’s mission is also to promote and educate with respect to Aiken’s historic assets. HAF is a key resource to the community – homeowners, shop owners, developers, and City organizations. This is something that successful historic preservation groups like the one in Macon, Georgia, do, and it promotes quality preservation while reducing adverse impacts on project schedules and costs. HAF members know where to access old photographs and historical research, they are knowledgeable regarding both the Aiken guidelines and the SIO Standards, and they have an extensive network of preservation experts who can provide sound advice on issues. Our goal is to neither interfere nor side with a particular group but to ensure that the best resources are available to all.

Recently, HAF did extensive research and was able to help the new owner of 140 Laurens (the former Aiken Brew Pub, soon-to-be Electric Eats) to better understand the historic preservation guidelines. Then, we connected him with a preservation expert who reviewed HAF’s analysis, leading to a quicker approval by the Design Review Board. Just this week, HAF was able to locate old maps and drawing for the Fermata Club that will support their application to the Design Review Board. We are confident that collaboration can streamline the approval process while ensuring quality preservation.