Camilla-- You've probably heard of Georgia's Main Street Program that helps cities revitalize their downtowns.
You may not have heard of Better Home Town. It's essentially the same program for small towns.
Camilla is one of Georgia's Better Home Towns, and the program is starting to pay off. Next to a magnificent magnolia stands a stately southern home. "This is about a 7,000 square foot house," says owner Harris Morgan. "McCree Hall was built in 1906."
Camilla native Harris Morgan bought the old house, which was built by a family in turpentine business, two years ago with a dream. "It'll be a gem for southwest Georgia, not just Camilla. It's gonna be something that people will want to see and want to do."
He's restoring McCree Hall to its former glory, down to the most minute detail. "They took all this apart and then put it back together. It's going to be beautiful. We want people to come here and use this thing and let it be part of the community. When you start a project like this, you don't really know what you're doing until you get in here and get going."
Experts are restoring the furniture, the woodwork, the plaster , turning McCree Hall from an old family home into a Bed and Breakfast and restaurant. And the carriage house out back will soon be a high-tech conference center, with video conferencing and teleconferencing.
It's all possible thanks to low-interest loans through Georgia's Better Home Town Program. "What the Better Home Town is doing is to help restore interest in our community," says Harris.
Better Home Town is also helping businesses improve, and a streetscape project is about to begin. "The Better Home Town is to revitalize downtown Camilla and let it be the social hub of the city," says Better Home Town Director Charla Thornton.
Merchants are doing that by getting involved in special activities. "We've got a lot of new events going on that wouldn't be taking place if it was not for the Better Home Town," Thornton said.
But the program's most visible result is historic McCree Hall. "A lot of them have been let go for so long that we're just tyring to bring them back and reviatlize them," said Thornton.
"Being part of a small town is a great thing, and we want to give something back." says Harris. Give something back to make Camilla a better home town.