City Honors Winners of 2020 Historic Preservation Awards

Staff Report

Monday, July 27th, 2020

The City of Valdosta honored the 2020 Preservation Award winners at the July 23 City Council Meeting.  May of each year is National Historic Preservation Month, however, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic the awards were postponed to July. The 12th annual awards program recognized property owners who go above and beyond the regulations set forth by the City to protect and preserve buildings within our local Historic District.

The theme for National Historic Preservation Month was "This. Place. Matters." which encourages people across the country to celebrate the places that are meaningful to them and their communities. The following people and organizations were recognized by city leadership for embracing the historic value of property in our community:

Outstanding Achievement Award

               

Both the Lowndes County Historical Society and J. Glen Gregory and Associates received the Outstanding Achievement Award for their work on the Bird Hospital Building.

The Bird Hospital Building, which is owned by the Lowndes Co. Historical Society, is located at 128 North Oak Street and was constructed in 1927 by Dr. and Mrs. Frank Bird. It is one of the early hospitals of Valdosta and set the stage for the development of Pineview General Hospital which was later converted to South Georgia Medical Center. This Hospital was operated by Dr. Bird as the main Hospital in Valdosta for a number of years until his death after an accident at the Hospital. After the Bird Hospital closed, it was used for a variety of uses and was later purchased by the First Baptist Church for use as a Youth Building. In 2015, First Baptist Church sold it to the Lowndes County Historical Society and they planned to rehabilitate the building for use as a museum exhibit area, offices, meeting room and storage for the museum’s collection. In November of 2017, the Lowndes Co. Historical Society began renovations and completed the work in January of 2020. The building was re-roofed, exterior wood repaired, and specialty painted to restore its original red brick appearance. On the interior, the entire building was renovated including new plumbing, wiring, wall and floor coverings, and a new elevator. The building also received new air condition and heating. J. Glen Gregory and Associates was the Architect for the Project which amounted to a $900,000.00 re-investment in the Local Historic District.

Distinguished Merit Award

Dr. Alex Alvarez received Distinguished Merit Award for his work on rehabilitating homes in the Local Historic District.

Alvarez is working on a Project termed the Brookwood North Craftsman and American Small House Project which is a preservation effort to purchase historic rental homes, rehabilitate them, and subsequently sell them to families that will become owner/occupants. Included in the current nomination are four homes: (1) 209 East Cranford Avenue, (2) 212 East Cranford Avenue, (3) 305 East Jane Street, and (4) 1516 Williams Street. After Dr. Alvarez purchased these homes, he upgraded the exterior with new finishes and added landscaping. The home at 1516 Williams Street received extensive renovation including the re-working of the original pressed metal roof, a new master bedroom addition, and a full interior remodel doubling the value of the home. Two of the homes included in the Project have already been purchased by owner/occupants and several past Projects in the District have resulted in new homeowners coming to live there. The hope is to help stabilize the Brookwood North District as a homeowner occupied historic neighborhood.

 Stewardship Award #1

The First Antioch Missionary Baptist Church received the Stewardship Award for its work of maintaining a beautiful historic building in its original design for over 100 years.

The First Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, one of Valdosta’s oldest religious congregations, occupies an historic edifice erected c. 1916-1919 at 517 North Oak Street. For over a century now, the congregation has maintained this anchor of its neighborhood in admirable condition, with few changes and great respect for the integrity of its fabric. Not only has the purpose of the building remained unchanged, but both its exterior and interior have been preserved to a high degree of its original design and building materials. It is presumed that famed local architect Lloyd Greer designed this beautiful building with its square flanking towers and arched openings reminiscent of the Romanesque Revival. It also features touches of Colonial Revival design that was in vogue at the time of its construction.The brick pattern of this building is a striking Flemish Bond design that employs red and black bricks which can be attributed to Samuel Forrest (1874-1945), a master bricklayer and son of First Antioch’s founding pastor, the Reverend Elbert Forrest (1837-1922). The geometric pattern of the stain glass windows of blue and gold illuminate the interior which also features a remarkable luminaire, c. 1899 that originally hung in the First Baptist Church but was transferred to First Antioch c. 1950. The First Antioch Missionary Baptist Church congregation is to be commended to its sustained and ongoing diligence in assuring the preservation of its beautiful, historically significant, and irreplaceable sanctuary. 

Stewardship Award #2

First Baptist Church received the second Stewardship Award for preserving and maintaining a beautiful campus for over 120 years.

The First Baptist Church of Valdosta boasts a beautiful sanctuary constructed in 1900, the Sunday School Annex was added in1926, and the Children’s Building and Langdale Chapel were both added in 1956. The current Children’s Building was added in 2006 and the old Children’s Building was renovated into an Adult Education space in 2007. In January of 2016, the new Family Life Center was added to the campus as a facility for youth and a large fellowship hall which is used for early contemporary services, concerts, banquets, church family meals, and much more. In addition to continuous maintenance on all of the buildings and grounds, a recent renovation to the Langdale Chapel was completed. J. Glen Gregory served as the Architect for the rehabilitation and Marguerite Harrell was the interior decorator. The stain glass windows were preserved and repaired and a new one added behind the pulpit. A new lighting/sound system was added, and the pews were refinished. They also replaced paneling and carpet and the platform extended all to make this facility refreshed and up-to-date to continue in service to the Church and community. A number of years ago, the First Baptist Church undertook a major Project with the replacement of the original pressed metal roof. The new roof is pressed metal and is reminiscent of the design of the original and represents a generous investment in the preservation and beauty of the building. Another recent Project was the restoration of the original wooden entrance doors to the main sanctuary. They were stripped, repaired, and refinished to be shiny, beautiful, and welcoming to members and visitors.

The First Baptist Church is commended on its long-term care and preservation of a campus of historic buildings that have remained beautiful to the community.

Harold M. Bennett Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Alfred Willis, Architectural Historian and Consultant, received the Harold M. Bennett Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Willis graduated from Valdosta High School, went on to Clemson University, and received his Doctorate at Columbia University in Architectural History. He studied in Europe, worked for the Belgian Government, retired from the Harvey Library at Hampton University, and currently works and volunteers as a Consultant. Dr. Willis has dedicated over 20 years to preserving the early, as well as modern, architecture of our community. He has also worked with local, civic-based historical preservation organizations and teaching institutions. Dr. Willis has researched, written, and lectured on the architectural history of Valdosta, including local and out of town Architects, their firms, and the structures they designed, such as the 1905 historic Courthouse, the Nichols House, and Dasher High School. Dr. Willis has built the most extensive collection of information on Valdosta’s architectural narrative and because of his efforts, Valdosta probably has the best-documented architectural history of any town this size in the nation.

"The city applauds all of this year's Historic Preservation Award winners," said James Horton, Valdosta's Historic Preservation Planner. "Their significant accomplishments help the city preserve the most irreplaceable treasures in our community and make Valdosta a unique place for citizens and visitors to enjoy."

For more information about historic preservation in the city, contact Horton at 229-259-3563 or at jhorton@valdostacity.com.