The John Ross House is the oldest surviving structure in northwest Georgia, built in 1797 by trader John McDonald.
It was initially a major site for traders and settlers in the area.
Chief John Ross grew up in the home owned by McDonald his grandfather.
Ross would go on to become the leader of the Cherokee Nation. He fought against the exile of the Cherokee that led to their forcible relocation to Oklahoma during the “Trail of Tears” in 1838.
Larry Rose oversees the John Ross House Association along with the property.
“It is definitely in peril,” Rose said. The sagging structure needs to be addressed, he said.
In 2005 the roof was replaced in period detail at the cost of $30,000.
The building is also in peril due to misuse and neglect by the public, and is neighbored by at least one abandoned building.
Rose is hopeful but uncertain about what financial help will arrive to preserve the home.
“This (distinction) may send out the signal that we need to join hands to help support the John Ross House” Rossville’s mayor Johnny Baker said.
Baker would like to see cameras and a security system to help safeguard the “valued treasure for Rossville and the state of Georgia” Baker said.
Baker affirms Rose’s concerns, admitting that there have been undesirable instances in the past where “dope was sold there and someone even set a campfire on the back porch,” Baker said.
Baker, along with a re-invigorated RDDA (Rossville Downtown Development Association), plans to work along with state Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga to find grants to improve the John Ross House.
Rose and Baker are among several people who would like to see the site developed into a historical interpretive center along with becoming a more “public friendly” site.
Plans are on the table to remove the asphalt road in front of the John Ross House to be replaced with walking paths, landscaping and picnic benches to connect the house with the popular neighboring lake.
Rose’s son, William, would like to see citizens take better care of the surroundings to help improve the overall downtown area while looking toward the site improvements.
Business people on lunch breaks and some fishermen “leave the place looking like a Bonnaroo concert when they’ve finished,” according to William Rose.
“This is the Trust’s sixth annual Places in Peril list,” said Mark C. McDonald, president and CEO of the Trust. “We hope the list will continue to bring preservation action to Georgia’s imperiled historic resources by highlighting ten representative sites.”
The aim of “Places in Peril” is to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic landmarks that are “threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy.”
Through Places in Peril, the Trust will encourage owners and individuals, organizations and communities to employ proven preservation tools, financial resources and partnerships in order to reclaim, restore and revitalize historic properties that are in peril.
The Ross house is the first structure in Walker County to make the “Places in Peril” list during its six years.
The settling of the John Ross House’s structure during its 213-year history is part of the reason it made the list, along with the age of John Ross House association members and the location in Rossville, which is hidden from much traffic.
Chattooga County’s Paradise Gardens of Summerville made the 2010 list, and “Cherokee Structures of North Georgia” did as well in 2007.
The Trust will provide on-site preservation assistance to each of the 2011 Places in Peril through its Partners in the Field program, funded by grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a number of charitable organizations in Georgia.
The Fairview Colored School in Cave Spring (Floyd County) is the next closest site to make the list for 2011.
The John Ross House had reopened to summertime tourist, employing two high school age docents to give tours during their break from school.
Rose would eventually like to see the building designated as a state park similar to the Chief Vann house near Chatsworth.