Building for the Future: Chamber to Launch Campaign to Spruce Up 100-Year-Old E.R. Barber House

Staff Report From Valdosta CEO

Friday, March 27th, 2015

You only get one chance to make a legendary first impression. The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber has made the E.R. Barber House its home since 1981, welcoming more than 2,800 visitors, Chamber members and citizens through its doors each year. At 100-years-old, the historic home, located at 416 North Ashley Street in Valdosta, is in need of a touch up.

The Barber House was built in 1915 by E.R. Barber, a respected entrepreneur and inventor who was very involved in the local community. After he died in 1965, he left the house to his daughter, Ola Barber Pittman, who occupied the property until her death in 1977. In her will, Pittman bequeathed the Barber House to the “citizens of Valdosta” with detailed instructions for the house to be a safe haven and place of security, relaxation and reflection.

The home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 following a two-year building renovation sparked by the Southwest Georgia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The renovation effort was made possible through the generous efforts of local craftsman and architects – including Richard Hill, Mac Tillman and Troy Snipes – who offered their services at little or no charge. Following the restoration, the Chamber moved into the Barber House with a 75-year lease for $1 per year, where it has remained for the past 34 years.

“The Barber House is not only home to the Chamber,” said Ron Borders, chairman of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber Board of Directors. “Over the years, the Barber House has been home to a number of essential organizations in our community – organizations which were developed by this Chamber and have grown even stronger on their own.”

Such initiatives, including Leadership Lowndes, the Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center & Tourism Authority, the Red Carpet Committee and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Annual Bird Supper, continue to flourish and remain a positive and integral part of the community.

“We continue to incubate new initiatives at the Chamber,” continued Borders. “We need to ensure that programs such as the SEEDS Center, our small business incubator, and the inland port have the resources needed to be successful. With strong community support, we can grow our local economy and build for the future.”

Building for the future is exactly what the Chamber is looking to do on the 100th anniversary of the historic Barber House. Since occupying the house in 1981, the Chamber has taken great care of the building, even earning the Stewardship Award from the Valdosta Historic Preservation Commission in 2013. However, as with any historic building, there is much to maintain. While still embodying Southern grace and charm, the house is in need of improvements to protect its structural integrity, from new roof and gutters to updated carpet and paint.

“Now is the time for leadership in our community to develop its vision and strategy to support the Chamber of Commerce in its efforts to revitalize the Barber House and to work with all community organizations involved in expanding and enhancing economic development in our community and region,” said James McGahee, leadership council chairman who is spearheading the fundraising effort.  “The Barber House represents and documents our community history, while our Chamber of Commerce represents our efforts to support our businesses and grow our economy for the future good of our citizens.”

The Barber House is much more than just a beautiful old building, it represents the past, present and future of this community, and serves as the first impression many newcomers and visitors will have of Valdosta. Learn more about the history of the Barber House by visiting

The Chamber’s leadership council will be kicking off the Building For The Future campaign in the coming weeks.