Category Archives: Valdosta GA

John Nelson Deming House, 1898, Valdosta

In their 2020 Places in Peril designation of this house, also known as the Deming-McDonald House, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation notes: In the latter half of the nineteenth century, carpenter John Deming moved from Canada to Georgia, where he would establish himself as the preeminent master builder in the rapidly growing city of Valdosta. Deming was responsible for many of the city’s most ornate and imposing houses constructed between the late 1800s until the 1920s, most notable among them The Crescent, completed in 1899 for Colonel W. S. West, who later became a U.S. senator. Deming built his own two-story, eclectically styled home on a corner of North Oak Street in 1898 using leftover materials donated by Col. West from his own soon-to-be-completed property.

The Trust goes on to point out that the house has been unoccupied for a long time and that it is deteriorating rapidly. Without intervention, it will likely be condemned at some point, opening the door for commercial development of the property.

Sunset Hill Cemetery, 1861, Valdosta

Strickland Family plot

Sunset Hill is the oldest public cemetery in Valdosta. It was established in 1861 with a gift of 30 acres by Charles Ogden Force, a former Valdosta postmaster. Like the vast majority of Victorian cemeteries, Sunset Hill has a park-like layout. It is well-maintained by the city. I only had time to document a few monuments, so the examples here are shared for their general aesthetic appeal.

Charles S. Strickland (22 February 1822-1 November 1883)
Emma Tillman Lane (9 January 1865-6 November 1906)
Emma Tillman Lane monument, detail
Dr. Oscar Samuel Cummings (27 April 1848-17 February 1883), Dove Finial
Dr. Oscar Samuel Cummings monument, The Last Voyage Bas Relief

This fascinating relief is one of four which adorn the sides of the monument of Dr. Oscar Samuel Cummings, a native of New Hampshire who practiced medicine and was an active Mason in Valdosta before his death. It is the work of the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Monumental Bronze marketed their memorials as “white bronze”, though they were neither white nor bronze. Instead, they were cast of zinc and were quite popular, and expensive, during the 1880s and 1890s.

The Last Voyage was designed by sculptor Archibald McKellar for the Monumental Bronze Company in 1881. It was based on A Gentle Wafting to Immortal Life, a marble sculpture by Felix M. Miller, and an engraving by William Roffe. Miller chose his title from a line in Milton’s Paradise Lost: “A death, like Sleep, A gentle wafting to immortal life.”

National Register of Historic Places

Queen Anne House, Valdosta

Historic Warehouses, 1907, Valdosta

These derelict warehouses are well-known landmarks in downtown Valdosta. Multiple tenants have occupied them over the past century.

The W. L. Wisenbaker Company, wholesale grocer, was one of the earliest tenants. Others have included the Thomas Dekle Hardware Company, Valdosta Paper Company, Pearce & Skinner, and Mutual Candy Company.

The ghost signs are popular with photographers.

Valdosta Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Withlacoochee River, Valdosta

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Originating in Berrien and Cook counties, the Withlacoochee River flows south through Brooks and Lowndes counties then crosses into Madison and Hamilton counties in Florida.  It merges with the Suwanee River near Live Oak and eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

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There’s another Withlacoochee River, originating in the Green Swamp near Polk City, Florida,  and emptying directly into the Gulf of Mexico. Kayakers sometimes refer to Georgia’s river as Withlacoochee North. It’s believed the Florida river is named for the Georgia river.  The origin of the name is thought to be Muskogean/Creek, loosely translated as little big water or river of lakes.

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The Withlacoochee is a relatively low river in general, but was particularly so when I made these photographs in the winter of 2012. The river was suffering the effects of a drought at the time. It’s best known by kayakers and a few intrepid anglers. Bowfin (Amia calva) a cousin of gar, is common in most runs of the Withlacoochee and though not generally taken for food, is a popular, if exotic, sport variety.

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There’s little literature or historical writing to be found on the Withlacoochee. It’s well-known to locals, but beyond its moss-draped banks, very few people are even aware of it. Most published lore on the Withlacoochee can be credited to the paddle sport community.

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There are a few private campsites along the river but access is quite limited.

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The growth of Valdosta and pollution from industrial agriculture near the river are putting a strain on this fragile environment, but ultimately, the river makes its presence known.

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A neighborhood near the spot these photographs were made has been known to flood on several occasions when the river receives heavy winter and spring rains. Interstate 75 passes within a half-mile of this area, as well.

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There’s a timeless feel to this wilderness, even in its most urban setting. At low water, one could theoretically “walk” the river for as far as he wished.

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Today, the Withlacoochee-Willacoochee-Alapaha-Little-Upper Suwannee Watershed Coalition (WWALS) is working to make the public more aware of the smaller and lesser known rivers of this section of South Georgia. Through education and pollution monitoring, they’re beginning to make a real impact.

 

 

C. H. Mitchell’s Bar-B-Q, Valdosta

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This 70s landmark was once one of the most popular restaurants in Valdosta. Today, just an empty building and this old sign remain. I’ve been told that Burt Reynolds used to pass through Valdosta on occasion and always picked up a pile of barbeque at C. H. Mitchell’s when he was there. Don’t know if that’s true, or just urban legend, but I like it.

The Crescent, 1899, Valdosta

It serves as the centerpiece of the Valdosta Garden Center, which also features beautiful formal gardens and outbuildings, and has played host to countless weddings and formal functions over the years. It’s open to the public Monday through Friday from 2 PM to 5 PM, but closed during major holidays and private events.

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Damon Olson, who spent five years in college at Valdosta State, reminded me that a photo of the Crescent was used for many years on the box of Winn-Dixie’s “Georgia Crackers” brand.

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If you’re ever in Valdosta, stop by and walk around the grounds.

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It’s definitely worth a visit.

National Register of Historic Places

 

 

 

Walter Peeples House, 1903, Valdosta

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This house was built by W. P. Dorough in 1903 and sold to Walter D. Peeples in 1906. After World War II, it was purchased by attorney J. Lundie Smith and continues to serve as attorney’s offices today for the firm of Saliba, Edwards & Moore.

William A. Pardee House, 1903, Valdosta

This house was designed by L. F. Brown. It later became the home of Judge John Gordon Cranford, a mayor of Valdosta. It was later purchased by Mr. & Mrs. Paul W. Cribbs, Sr., who completed its restoration in 1984.

Concentrated in an area of River, Varneodoe, and Wells Streets and Central Place, the village of Fairview predates the incorporation of the City of Valdosta. The neighborhood underwent three periods of development: 1840-1860; the late 1890s Victorian surge; and the 1910-1920s period of Prairie and Craftsman influence. The Fairview Neighborhood Association was instrumental in the formation of the Valdosta Heritage Foundation in 1981. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in May of 1984, the neighborhood is a model of community reinvestment through historic preservation.

Fairview Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

J. D. Tant House, 1904, Valdosta

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Fairview Historic District, National Register of Historic Places