Helena’s Hotel Willard Will Soon Be Demolished

I recently updated my original post about the Hotel Willard, noting that it appeared work was being done on the property. When I shared this on social media, it was confirmed that it’s being prepared for demolition. I’m not using this space to criticize the decision but rather to share some last photographs of this landmark.

It amazes me that communities can’t see the value in such properties, but owners are often reluctant to pour money into them and as a result they deteriorate over time to the point that repair is not feasible. We say we love our heritage but we have a really bad track record of saving it.

I understand that many of the architectural features of the hotel are being salvaged. I hope this cast iron door frame is among them.

Unfortunately, the most important features, such as the brickwork around the entrance and the fanlights will be lost forever.

UPDATE: On 29 December 2017, we got the best possible news about the future of the hotel. Michelle Lowery writes that the owners have now decided to renovate it.




13 thoughts on “Helena’s Hotel Willard Will Soon Be Demolished

  1. Pingback: Restoration of the Hotel Willard, Helena | Vanishing South Georgia Photographs by Brian Brown

  2. Rob Landy

    We went by today, Sept 3, 2019, and it looks like it is being restored, but slowly. The outside bricks have been cleaned, mostly, and many windows have been updated with E-Energy, dual glazed insulated windows. Looking inside, it looks like some renovations are going on, but slowly.

  3. Sherri

    This is such a fine building. Nearly a year after your last update, I couldn’t tell if it was being worked on or demolished, but in the back it looked like some reframing of windows had been done. Telfair is a very poor county but has some fine buildings. Until we come up with viable new uses for our historic buildings, we’re going to keep losing them. One storefront in McRae has trees growing in it.

  4. Jesse M. Bookhardt

    As a child living in neighboring Jeff Davis County, I recall seeing many times this old gem standing stately at the junction of two railroads. It was the crowned jewel of Helena, Georgia. It stood like a giant above the other nondescript buildings that were near. It projected strength, class, and a time when rails were the dominant means of long distance travel. I am saddened that this old beauty will soon bite the dust and no longer stand proudly on highway 341 greeting passing motorist. Unlike our European neighbors, we destroy our old buildings often with little thought about their histories and contributions to our lives. All around us we see wonderful structures that have passed their window of repair and will ultimately rot away or will be scraped away by a dozer.

  5. Becky

    The first time I saw this grand structure nine years ago, I was intrigued. I have been back many times, walking the grounds and looking at the ornamental brickwork, arches, door frames. and fan windows. The stories it could tell, opened in 1891 (126 years ago), built by the railroad and operated by local people.When the building is gone and the lot is empty I hope someone will remember it’s history. I am so sad that it could not be saved.

  6. Joyce Callaway.

    So sorry to hear about this. Too many landmarks are being demolished. The only preservation is through pictures, history, and stories told. My aunt worked there as a waitress many years ago.

  7. teriechristmas

    This truly makes me sad. When we were living in Dublin, I traveled all around middle Georgia taking photographs. I will never forget the day I stumbled upon this beauty. I wanted so bad to go inside, since my passion is photographing abandoned buildings. I never did find anyone to talk with. I hate when these beauties are torn down and all the history that is within them is forever lost.

  8. LDG

    Such a shame not to restore these precious landmarks. I was a young child when Fitzgerald demolished the old Lee Grant Hotel and put in a Piggly Wiggly. What a treasured landmark lost.

  9. Bonnie Brown

    I’ve passed this building many times and it always catches my eye. I think it is terrible that it is being torn down. I do understand it from a financial standpoint since I know it would be a huge investment to restore it. Still, just really hate to see our historical structures vanishing. I wish more people were interested in preserving our past. Do you know if there have been any efforts to save it?

  10. Nfutral

    Thank you for going back. This place could’ve been the centerpiece of this town. Demolition by neglect, then the property owner gets to tell everyone how they “tried” to save it, but it was too far gone. The iconic DeSoto Beach motel on Tybee fell to this sort of thing.


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