May of each year is National Historic Preservation Month and this year’s theme is “This Place Matters,” a campaign for showcasing one’s favorite historic building. The city of Valdosta is celebrating with the 11th annual Historic Preservation Awards. These awards are given to a select few who have gone above and beyond to rehabilitate and preserve a particular contributing historic building or construct a new building which blends well with the historic character of the District.
The categories for the awards are: Outstanding Achievement for large rehabilitation projects, Distinguished Merit for smaller rehabilitation projects, Stewardship for long term preservation and care of a historic building, and Excellence in Compatible New Construction for new construction that blends well with the historic character of the District. There is also the Harold Bennett Lifetime Achievement Award for a Valdostan who has preserved buildings or promoted the Historic Preservation Movement in Valdosta in an outstanding way over a long period of time.
The awards provide positive reinforcement to the Historic District Design Review process, promote goodwill within our community and acknowledge the hard work and monetary re-investment back into the community’s building stock.
Mayor John Gayle along with Celine Gladwin, Chairman of the Valdosta Historic Preservation Commission presented the awards Thursday night. The projects were introduced by James Horton, City of Valdosta Historic Preservation Planner and Special Projects Coordinator.
The building at 109 and 111 S Ashley, fondly known to long-time Valdosta residents at the Southern Salvage building is a local landmark that has been brought back to life. The building sat vacant for many years after the business closed, but the folks at Coleman Talley decided they wanted to be Downtown and saw the potential in this building. The project represents the second largest private investment in the Valdosta Historic District. The project began in April of 2017 as a Historic Tax Credit Rehabilitation project under the direction of BFB Gladwin Architects. The building was rehabilitated to very high standards preserving the existing historic materials to the maximum extent. The offices, conference rooms, and other working spaces are not only beautiful but are constructed with the latest technologies within the confines of the historic character retained in the building. This project has been such a success in so many ways not only saving a huge, unused historic relic Downtown, but also by bringing over 50 new people into the Downtown area to enjoy their work, shopping, and dining.
The Valdosta Water Works building at 109 S Briggs Street was once a bustling place full of workers and pumping millions of gallons of water for Valdostans each day. However, in the 1980s, the system was old, the demand was too high, and the quality of water had deteriorated so the Plant was closed. This big brick building with the huge arched windows began its long wait for a new occupant. For about 30 years, this building was used for storage and became a place for natural ferns on its interior dirt floors.
The Georgia Beer Company, Valdosta’s first brewery and the southern-most brewery in the State of Georgia, is now proud to call the building home. The project was a public/private partnership between the Georgia Beer Company, the City of Valdosta, and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority.
Today the building has been rehabilitated while preserving its industrial historic character-defining features and has been retrofitted with the most modern brewing equipment. IPG was the architect for the project.
The Valdosta Junior Service League found the Converse Dalton Ferrell house at 305 N Patterson Street deteriorating and threatened with demolition in 1982 and decided to save it and make it a place for Valdostans to always see, use, and enjoy. The Service League completed a huge rehabilitation by 1983 and has called this southern beauty home ever since. The house was constructed in 1902 by the Converse family with lumber cut from their own farm.
Over the past 37 years, the Valdosta Junior Service League has lovingly maintained the home as their meeting place and an event place for the City of Valdosta. They have continuously worked on the maintenance of the building on both the interior and exterior, with hard earned money from fundraisers. In 2017, the league discovered some major problems with the building due to water damage and had to stop and focus all of their efforts on getting the building repaired. While working on the building, they rebuilt all of the gutters and repaired rotten woodwork all over the building. In addition to this, there was extensive plumbing work, porch work, and a new paint job to keep the building a gleaming white picture of Neo-classical preservation for Valdosta. The League plans on continuing their affair with this lovely home for many years to come.
Harold M. Bennett Lifetime Achievement Award
Not many people can compare to Albert Slone when it comes to a love of Valdosta and a love for its history and its historic buildings. Mr. Slone began his work in Downtown over 20 years ago when Downtown was on the brink of extinction. He came to Downtown at a time when malls and shopping centers were taking the businesses out of Downtowns all over the country. Mr. Slone could see the potential that Downtown Valdosta had through his appreciation for history and eye for architectural detail. One of his first buildings was at 105 to 111 W. Central, a three-story vacant lot in need of façade help and total indoor rehabilitation. He took on the challenge and brought the building back to life making it his engineering firm, a restaurant, clothing shop, a residence for him and his family, and apartments for lease to others. The rehabilitation of the building was done through the Rehabilitation Tax Credit program and was done under strict guidelines. The result was a project that revitalized an entire area and became part of a new trend Downtown – bringing it back!
Over the years, Mr. Slone has been involved in purchasing and rehabilitating many more buildings downtown like 102 W. Rogers Street, 118 N. Patterson, 116 W. Hill, 116 N. Patterson, 213-215 N. Ashley, 111 N. Patterson, 114 N. Patterson. 113-115 N. Patterson. Mr. Slone was also involved in purchasing with others, the old Southern Salvage building and stabilizing it while new owners were found.
Two or Mr. Slone’s latest and largest rehabilitations are 110 W. Hill Avenue, which he along with his partners, rehabilitated the 19,000 square foot building into 11 luxury apartments and several ground floor businesses. After that, Mr. Slone worked for a year on to 101 to 109 N. Patterson making it into a pristine events center known as The Patterson.
Mr. Slone has always had his eye on Downtown Valdosta and kept its preservation and revitalization close at heart. A couple of years ago, he found a building on S. Ashley, the old Whitehead Hardware building, just days away from demolition, and he purchased the building to save it. He held the building while looking for a tenant and has now sold the building for a new French Market. What a guy he is!
More recently, Mr. Slone has purchased several historic properties on Moore Street for his residence and some smaller rehabilitation projects. Mr. Slone is always interested and willing to serve on boards and commissions and to help anyone struggling with an overwhelming preservation project. He has been involved in many, many projects selflessly giving of his time and expertise. No one could be more qualified to receive this award than Albert Stone.