Valdosta > Historic Preservation Awards

| May 30, 2015


VALDOSTA — The City of Valdosta honored the 2015 Preservation Award winners at the May 21 City Council Meeting, as part of our city’s observance of National Historic Preservation Month. In 2009, the Historic Preservation Commission initiated the annual award program to recognize property owners who go above and beyond the regulations set forth by the City to protect and preserve buildings within our local Historic District.

This year’s theme for Historic Preservation Month in Valdosta was: “Refine, Restore, and Re-use Valdosta’s Precious Historic Places.”

Three well-deserving local Historic Preservation projects were recognized for their preservation and re-use of historic buildings in the community and were awarded a framed certificate and a Preservation Awards Banner, which can be proudly displayed on the exterior of the winner’s historic building.

The Ashley House/IDP Housing – Outstanding Achievement

The Ashley House, located at 109 East Hill Avenue in Downtown Valdosta, received the Outstanding Achievement Award which recognizes exemplary accomplishments in historic building rehabilitation or restoration. This downtown Valdosta landmark first opened its doors in 1925 as the Daniel Ashley Hotel. It was a seven-story luxury hotel for Downtown Valdosta along the heavily traveled Highway 41 – a major north/south travel corridor prior to I-75 being built. It was designed by Daugherty and Gardner and was graceful, elegant and beautiful in all of its Neoclassical Styled splendor. For many years, it hailed as one of the nicest places to stop for the night on one’s way to Florida. By 1973, Highway 41 had lost its popularity as the new and better I-75 had taken over, and the Ashley Hotel closed its doors.

In 1976, the old Ashley Hotel began a new life as an apartment complex. By 1980, the building was converted into housing for seniors using Housing and Urban Development Financing. In 1994, the property was sold to another company who did a moderate renovation on the building and the units within. Today, the building is owned by IDP Housing and has recently undergone a massive rehabilitation to provide a high quality residence for the elderly who are on a fixed income.

The rehabilitation was completed under strict Historic Preservation Guidelines as it used the Tax Credits for Historic Property Rehabilitation and the Property Tax Freeze through the Federal Government and the State of Georgia. The project began in October of 2013 at a cost of $9,817,061 and utilized a number of funding sources including bank loans, Low Income Tax Credits, the Affordable House Program and a US Housing and Urban Development Loan.

The common spaces and individual units received much attention, as well as the exterior of the building as well. The interior public spaces received cleaning and repair as needed to the marble and terrazzo and new furniture and received new carpet, paint, cabinets and appliances. Some new public spaces were created as well including a courtyard, a computer lab, arts and crafts room and a medical clinic.

The exterior of the building rehabilitation included new storefront build outs for retail space on the street level, all new windows with trim, a new canopy over the main entrance, masonry cleaning and removal of the wall HVAC units and the addition of a new HVAC split system to serve the whole building. The project was completed using earth-friendly methods and is certified as an EarthCraft Multifamily Building and an EarthCraft Communities site. The crowning glory of the entire project is a beautiful new four-story tall neon sign reminiscent of the old Ashley Hotel sign which invigorates the south end of the downtown area at night.

King’s Grill – Stewardship Award

King’s Grill was awarded a 2015 Stewardship Award, given to preservationists who have provided long-term love, care and maintenance, stabilization, or protection of contributing historic buildings.

King’s Grill, the landmark on the corner of Central Avenue and Patterson Street, is among the oldest buildings in downtown. It was constructed in 1872, and over the years has been used for a variety of businesses, including the R. A. Peeple’s Fire Insurance Company and an ice cream shop. In 1941, King’s Grill opened and has been in continuous operation since. In 1974, D. J. and Pearl DeVane bought the building and the business and employed their daughter Pat DeVane (Yeomans) until she eventually took over the business in 1985 and has been a part of four generations who have worked in the restaurant.

The interior of the restaurant has a retro throw-back look of the typical diner of the 1950’s. A dozen bar stools are planted firmly into a terrazzo tile floor at a blue trimmed gray formica countertop. Chairs and tables turned on a diamond pattern line the center of the room, and the south side is lined with six booths covered in the same blue vinyl material. The booths have gray formica table tops to match the long countertop running the length of the restaurant behind the bar stools. The interior paint is a two-tone black and white. The shelves and walls are filled with interesting eclectic memorabilia.

Behind the counter is the old grill where Pat’s daddy used to cook hamburgers, hotdogs, French fries and make hand dipped milkshakes. Today Pat has a more formal menu with a daily lunch special, but one can still order a good ole hamburger and French fries.

The exterior of the building is designed in a Folk Victorian style, which was popular between 1870 until 1910. The building is constructed of brick and covered in a stucco finish with decorative belt courses stretching horizontally across the front and down the side of the building. The front is adorned with an elaborate cornice at the top which includes a decorative gable with fish-scale type shingles, detailed brackets and other decorative features such as the fan-shaped finials. There are two individual windows and one set of paired windows on the front and eight windows down the side. The windows are original wood framed double-hung sashes with two glasses over two glasses. Overall, the exterior of the building looks much like it did when it was first built and has been maintained and operated as a place of good food by Pat Yeomans and her family for over 41 years.

The Crescent – Stewardship Award

The Crescent was built by Colonel William S. West in 1898 was also awarded a 2015 Stewardship Award. It is a neoclassical-style house with 13 large two-story columns supporting a grand two-story crescent shaped porch. It was occupied by the West family for many years and during the Depression, it was divided up into apartments. In 1951, the West grandchildren sold the house to some businessmen who were going to put a gas station and a used car lot on the site. Mrs. T. H. Smith was the president of the Garden Club at that time, and her theme was “Preservation and Restoration.” She urged the Garden Clubs to buy the Crescent for their meeting place. They had only two months to raise the purchase price of $35,000. Mrs. R. B. Whitehead and Mrs. Leonard J. Mederer joined in with Mrs. Smith to save this landmark. The money was raised with only one day to spare.

Soon after the purchase of the house, the group of women borrowed $5,000 and started restoration and renovation of the building. After paying off the debt a year later, they borrowed an additional $2,000 for more repairs. Upon paying that back, they borrowed $2,000 more to develop the gardens which remain beautiful today.

Over the years, the Crescent has been a meeting place for up to 12 garden clubs. It has mothered two churches, hosted countless public and private parties and events, and has seen many plant shows and conventions. It has also become a popular place for hundreds of weddings that have taken place on the porch and inside the elegant home.

The Crescent was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The house has some original furnishings from the West family and includes other fine antiques fitting to the time period of its construction. The home is maintained in beautiful condition, and the grounds are meticulously maintained.

The house is open for guided tours Monday through Friday from 2-5 p.m., and by appointment. The cost of the tour is whatever the visitor can or wants to donate. No one is turned away from seeing this beautiful Valdosta home.

The gardens are magnificent with each participating garden club maintaining a portion with annuals, perennials, bulbs, flowering plants and trees. There is always something blooming in the garden and the gardens are always open to the public for their enjoyment. For 64 years, the Crescent has been preserved and maintained as a beautiful and proud landmark for Valdosta.

“The annual Historic Preservation Awards program brings deserved attention to the significant accomplishments of individuals and groups who help the city preserve the most irreplaceable treasures in our community and make Valdosta a unique place for citizens and visitors to enjoy,” said James Horton, Valdosta’s Historic Preservation Planner.

City of Valdosta

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