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Valdosta Chamber Honored with Stewardship Award

IN PHOTO: (from left) Harry Hamm, Historic Preservation Commission Chairman; Emily Foster, City of Valdosta Historic Preservation Planner; Carla Penny (Classic Art & Frame), Chairman of the Barber Trust Advisory Board; Jay Prince (Prince Automotive), 2013 Chairman of the Board of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber; and Valdosta Mayor John Gayle.
The City of Valdosta honored the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce with the Stewardship Award for its long-term care, maintenance and overall preservation of the historic E. R. Barber House—the Chamber’s business location at 416 North Ashley Street for over three decades.  Mayor John Gayle, Historic Preservation Planner Emily Foster and Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Harry Hamm presented the award to Jay Prince, 2013 Chairman of the Board of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber, and Carla Penny, Chairman of the Barber Trust Advisory Board, at the May 23 City Council meeting.  The Chamber received a framed award certificate and a preservation banner that is proudly displayed in the Barber House.
“The Barber House is not only a historic landmark building, but its restoration inspired further preservation efforts in Valdosta, which ultimately led to the adoption of a local historic district, preservation ordinance and establishment of the historic preservation commission,” said Foster. “As a result of the Chamber's exceptional stewardship, the Barber House continues to be a well-preserved treasure for our community.”
Since 1979, the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce has maintained one of Valdosta’s most historic landmark buildings.  The Barber House was built in 1915 by Eugene Barber, a respected entrepreneur, inventor, and the proprietor of the second Coca-Cola bottling company in the world.  The house—designed by locally prominent architect Lloyd Barton Greer and was constructed by John Nelson Deming of Valdosta—is a fine example of the Neoclassical architectural style, as shown by its six Ionic columns, dentil molding and symmetry.
Upon the death of E.R. Barber in 1965, followed by the death of his daughter Ola Barber Pittman in 1977, the house was willed to "the citizens of Valdosta." In 1979, the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce became the resident of the property; and subsequently, the Southwest Georgia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects restored the deteriorating home. Rehabilitation work was completed by local architect Richard Hill, and the Barber House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Today, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce is the Trustee for the Barber House, and great care has been taken to preserve the architectural integrity of the Barber House. The original light fixtures are still used, as is much of the furniture originally belonging to the Barber-Pittman family. The bathroom tile was duplicated from the original, and wallpaper and paint colors selected for the house are period-appropriate.
“The Chamber has always fully appreciated that the Barber House is a community treasure, and we have worked diligently since we moved into the building to be good stewards of this treasure,” said Myrna Ballard, Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce President.  “We are humbled to be recipients of the city’s 2013 Stewardship Award and are inspired to continue taking good care of the Barber House in the future.” 
The Stewardship Award is part of the Valdosta’s Preservation Awards program that recognizes significant projects that contribute to the preservation and enhancement of historic buildings in the local Valdosta Historic District.  The program brings deserved attention to the significant accomplishments of individuals and groups who help the city preserve the most irreplaceable treasures in our community and make Valdosta a unique place for citizens and visitors to enjoy.
At the May 23 City Council meeting, City Manager Larry Hanson also praised the Chamber for their Centennial Tree Project, which serves to preserve the Valdosta tree canopy through the planting of 100 Live Oak trees in our community.

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