Steps Through Time

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Photo Credit: Zhen Hu via Unsplash

A Valdosta walking tour reveals rich history through awesome architecture

By Allison Reiber DeLiegro

A city’s historic buildings can tell you volumes if you listen. The sheer number of preserved buildings in Valdosta tells us this: Valdosta is a city that takes pride in its heritage. It's easy to see why.

Before there was Valdosta, the capital of Lowndes County was Troupville, an outpost that attracted settlers for its beautiful landscapes and fertile soil. But change was on the horizon. When the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad decided to build a railway four miles south of town, the residents made a bold choice. They decided to pick up and move. They named the new town Valdosta in honor of the former Governor George Troup's plantation, "Val d'Aosta." The city became Lowndes County's administrative capital in 1860.

This self-guided walking tour takes visitors on a journey to discover what happened next. Lace up your sneakers and hit the sidewalks to see how the history of Valdosta unfurled in real time. You'll soon see what makes Valdosta so special. 

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Valdosta Courthouse Square

Start your tour at the corner of Central and Ashley streets. Take a look around you and see what catches your eye. Are you looking up at the imposing Lowndes County Courthouse? This stately domed building was designed by architect Frank P. Millburn and completed in 1905. With its elaborate portico, it's among the finest courthouses in Georgia. As you walk around the courthouse, see if you can find the time capsule monument. The time capsule was erected in honor of the American Bicentennial on July 4, 1976 and will be opened in 2026.

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The Crescent

Head north on Ashley Street and take a left on Gordon Street. Soon enough, you'll approach one of the great architectural treasures of the South: The Crescent. Can you guess how the landmarked home earned its name? The building is surrounded by an expansive crescent-shaped porch. It was constructed by Colonel William S. Nest in 1898 as a lavish 23-room home for his family. We're lucky it's still standing. In 1951, the building was at risk of being demolished. Thankfully, three ladies from a local garden club fought to preserve it. Today, the Crescent is the home of all the Garden Clubs in Valdosta and hosts special events year-round.

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Valdosta State University

Continue north on Patterson Street until you reach Valdosta State University. Step under the iconic iron gate and stroll past the red-roofed buildings and leafy palm trees. Can you find West Hall? Built in 1917, the Spanish mission-style building is the oldest structure on campus and the symbol of the university. Today, the campus has grown to a thriving co-ed university of 11,000 students. Discover other cool buildings on scheduled campus tours.

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Lowndes County Historical Society Museum

Once you've taken in the sights of the university, head south on Oak Street back to Central Avenue downtown. The elegant red-brick building there was constructed in 1913 as a library, funded in part by a Carnegie grant. Today, the former library houses the Lowndes County Historical Society Museum. This 10,000 square-foot museum displays photographs, documents and artifacts that illustrate the storied history of Lowndes County. Dive into the extensive archives to see what you dig up.

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R.T. Myddelton House

Turn the corner onto River Street and you’ll reach a cheerful seafoam green building. This charming home was built by R.T. Myddelton in 1895. The vernacular Victorian-style house has a wrap-around porch, four fireplaces and formal living and dining rooms. Today, the home houses the Fairview Inn, a lovely bed and breakfast that allows guests to step back into time.

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History buffs, learn more about Valdosta’s origin story.

First Baptist Church

Take Valley Street towards town and you’ll find the iconic First Baptist Church. While the steeple-topped building you see was constructed in the 1800s, the congregation originated in Troupville. When the town relocated to Valdosta, the members dismantled their church and moved it to the corner of Ashley and Valley streets.

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Photo Credit: Lance Taylor via Flickr

First United Methodist Church

Continue to Patterson Street and you'll reach another church that is steeped in history, the First United Methodist Church. Built in the late Victorian era, this Romanesque Revival-style structure is striking for its tall tower with buttresses. Step inside to admire the fine woodwork, the intricate stained glass and the soaring ceiling.

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Dosta Playhouse

Continue on Valley Street and take a right on Ashley Street. You'll soon reach a landmark from a different era, the Dosta Playhouse. The striking Art Moderne-style theater was built as a cinema in 1940 but fell out of use decades later. In the 1990s, a performing arts group called the Lowndes Valdosta Arts Commission fell in love with the space and decided to buy it. However, they had a lot of work on their hands. There were no seats, no heat or air conditioning and hardly any roof. Visitors who attend performances today get to see the playhouse in all its renovated glory.

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Converse-Dalton-Ferrell House

Loop back around to Patterson Street to see one of the most iconic buildings in town. The three-story Converse-Dalton-Ferrell House was built in 1902 as the private home of Thomas Briggs Converse Sr., his wife and their 13 children. The building’s most iconic feature is the two-story portico that curves around the facade. Step up close to admire the beautiful porch and the large terrace on the right side. Today, the house is used as the meeting place for the Valdosta Junior Service League.

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Barber-Pittman House

Continue on Ashley Street to the final stop on your tour: the Barber-Pittman House. This stately pillared abode was built in 1915 for E.R. Barber. How could he afford to build such a fine residence? Barber was an inventor and the first Coca Cola bottler located outside of Atlanta. In 1977, Barber’s daughter, Ola, donated the house to the citizens of Valdosta. It is now used as the headquarters for the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce.

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Photo Credit: Lance Taylor via Flickr
History buffs, learn more about Valdosta’s origin story.
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