Valdosta City Hall turns 100 - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta City Hall turns 100

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By Jade Bulecza - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) –Valdosta's City Hall turned 100 years old today.

A Valdosta man, now 95-years old, led efforts to restore the building after it burned in the late 80s.

It also served as a federal building for about 60 years.

That's just a glimpse at its history and preservation.

The Valdosta City Hall building has endured a lot over the last 100 years including a fire that damaged much of the building in 1987.

"It was smoke damage more than anything else," said Harold Bennett. "It looked awfully bad."

"Mr. Harold Bennett was the leader of that preservation movement to restore city hall," said Valdosta Historic Preservation Planner Emily Foster.

Former councilman Bennett, now 95 years old, says he spent a year working on the building and recalls what people told him.

"Anybody that would fix up an old building like this doesn't know what they're doing and I said you're absolutely right I know exactly what I'm doing," said Bennett.

They told him he was throwing his money away, but it's because of him that many historic buildings in Valdosta have not been destroyed. The City of Valdosta rededicated City Hall Thursday.

For 60 years the building served as a post office and courtroom and wasn't until 1970 that the City of Valdosta purchased the building.

James Beck was Mayor at the time.

"I think he purchased it for about $55,000," said Valdosta Mayor John Fretti. "We can't renovate a hallway for that money now."

City Manager Larry Hanson took out the oldest minute book dated back to 1877. He read the minutes from May 1910 and found city council issues like extending water and sewer lines pay increases and asking the federal government for reimbursements.

 "It was really neat to see the issues they were dealing with and know some of those we continue to address today," said Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson.

From remodeling to restorations throughout the decades, like Harold Bennett, community members are proud to have a historic structure like this for many more years to come.

City Hall hasn't always been on East Central Avenue.

The first City Hall in Valdosta was built in 1895 on the corner of Ashley Street and Hill Avenue.

 
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