Preservationists assess Thomasville’s historic shotgun house

The assessment is for a Black historical landmark in Thomasville.
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 8:28 PM EDT
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THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - Preserving African American History is something the City of Thomasville deeply values. The Jack Hadley History Museum has purchased the Historic Thomasville Landmark of the Imperial Hotel and the Shotgun House. Preservationists walked through the famous structure and said there is much work to be done to preserve and transform the historic sites.

Citizens of Thomasville may have driven by this house hundreds of times and probably never given it a second thought. Well, that’s changing. Thomasville’s infamous shotgun house is being documented and studied to restore and tell the stories of the lives of the people that lived here.

You can see straight through in some rooms from the ceiling to the floor which is why preservationists are here in Thomasville to assess these historic landmarks to see what can be salvaged and what needs a major upgrade.

Executive Director of Thomasville Landmarks, Nancy Tinker said the preservation of these landmarks is extremely important to the history of Thomasville.

“The shotgun house is representative of a once vibrant African American community that stood in this portion of the city, there was once a row of multiple shotgun houses that were located here. This is the last one to survive,” said Tinker.

Executive Director of Thomasville Landmarks Nancy Tinker stresses the importance of preserving...
Executive Director of Thomasville Landmarks Nancy Tinker stresses the importance of preserving Thomasville's history for the next generation.(walb)

The Jack Hadley History Museum will build a brand-new structure right next to the Imperial Hotel and Shotgun House to celebrate and preserve history.

It will be known as the Jack Hadley Yards.

Executive Director of the Jack Hadley History Museum, Daniel Pittman said, We learned that some of the features of the shotgun house are not original, and so that provided us some decisions to make of whether we want to go to a certain period of time,” said Nancy Tinker.

Pittman said, “Definitely one of the things that would be a newer addition to the house is plumbing, and so going forward, we definitely want to make sure that whoever uses the shotgun house will have a bathroom, so it is definitely a feature we want to keep.”

Preservationist, Eric Menninger walked me through the Shotgun House, and it was easy to see the repairs that needed to be done.

“I think anyone can tell, this doesn’t look level, and this pier does not look healthy. If you look, these top three courses 1,2,3... are simply dry stacked, the mortar, that’s the stuff in between has failed,” said Menninger.

Menninger said, “So this is inside, it is simple, like its humble, but also kind of high, it has a 10ft ceiling, that would be high by today’s standard. Butted here’s the original B board I talked about. Still real strong and in good condition.”

Museum Founder Jack Hadley said the purpose of buying the property is to see everything in one area and to teach kids about African American history and culture.

“It’s very important because we all helped built this country, we helped build America, The United States Of America. And we should be proud of that, black and Whites and Indian people - anyone who helped made this all possible,” said Hadley.

Pittman said, “The Imperial Hotel, the top floor is going to be 4 Airbnb spaces that families can rent out and have an authentic experience of a Green Book location. Our current plans for the shotgun house is actually to turn that into a larger space for families to rent out to also have an Airbnb space and get an authentic experience of an original shotgun house.”

The Imperial Hotel has some of the same damages as the shotgun house, so the new owners, the Jack Hadley History Museum, have their work cut out for them in both buildings.

“The home has suffered some decay and damage. You can see here that water has errored, rodded away, the inside sheetrock, the studs, the bottom of it, and the floor we’re standing on too,” said Menninger. “So, when we come into a building and see this level of damage, our first question is where did this water come from? If you look up here, you see an old exhaust vent for the stove, you look closely and see into the attic and there are holes through to the daylight.”

The Jack Hadley History Museum said they are working to get a grant to help with the preservation of these historic landmarks and welcomes the community to the history museum to learn more about ways they can help preserve African American History.