Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

June 29, 2014

Valdosta announces preservation award recipients

-- — The City of Valdosta recently honored Dr. Richard Saeger and David Sutton with the Harold M. Bennett Lifetime Achievement Award for their long-term stewardship and contributions to historic preservation. Mayor John Gayle, Historic Preservation Planner Emily Foster and Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Harry Hamm presented the awards at the June 19 Valdosta City Council meeting. This year marks the first time two individuals received this prestigious award, named in honor Valdosta’s “Father of Historic Preservation.”

“The Valdosta Preservation Awards 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,” said Foster.

Dr. Richard Saeger, who has lived in historic houses throughout his life, is a proud recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.  When he moved to Valdosta in 1972, he and his wife purchased a circa-1900s Queen Anne home on Adair Street, in which they lived for 10 years. The couple then moved to his present house on East Park Avenue — an English Vernacular Revival Cottage with Colonial Revival elements, located in both the Valdosta Historic District and Brookwood North National Register District—where he undertook repairs to preserve and maintain the character of this historic home. He joined the National and Georgia Trusts for Historic Preservation, and educated himself on the policies and benefits of preservation, which he gladly shared with others. In the 1990s, he became actively involved in the Historic Brookwood North Neighborhood Association and Valdosta Heritage Foundation, serving multiple terms as both an officer and as president, and in which he continues to be involved. In 1996, Dr. Saeger was appointed to the Valdosta Historic Preservation Commission, where he is serving in his fifth term and is the current vice-chair. Saeger has also served on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Alliance of Preservation Commissions, representing the south central region of Georgia, as well as the Board of Directors for the Valdosta-Lowndes Habitat for Humanity, where he has helped to integrate compatible new housing in the Valdosta Historic District.

Lowndes County native David J. Sutton also received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifetime of historic preservation influence. Sutton and his wife purchased the “Monroe House” — what is now known as the Monroe-Sutton-Haller House — in the Fairview neighborhood. The 1896 Queen Anne house designed by architect Stephen Fulghum inspired Sutton’s 30-year commitment to its restoration. Sutton’s enthusiasm for rehabilitating his home spread into the Fairview neighborhood, and he assisted others in purchasing and restoring many historic houses in Valdosta’s historic neighborhoods. He helped research the history and architectural significance of these houses as well, allowing a new generation to discover the rewards of historic preservation.

Through his vocation as an urban planner, Sutton accomplished projects that benefited both his neighborhood and the community at large.  His leadership was instrumental in turning a large nuisance property in the middle of Fairview into a passive city park. Sutton was also responsible for working with the City of Valdosta to reduce speeding along Central Place by closing this street’s access from Central and Hill Avenues and getting a four-way stop sign installed at the intersection of Floyd and Wells Streets — making the Fairview neighborhood a more safe and livable area. Sutton was also instrumental in saving the Barber-Pittman House and the J. T. Roberts House. Although Sutton moved away from Valdosta approximately a decade ago, his influence on historic preservation continues to have a major impact on the city of Valdosta.

“Both Lifetime Achievement Award recipients have demonstrated a high level of influence in local historic preservation, yet each recipient has made their mark in different ways over the past four decades,” said Hamm. “Their combined efforts and numerous contributions are immeasurable and have made our city a better place by protecting and promoting Valdosta’s history.”

The Historic Preservation Commission began the annual awards program in 2009 as part of the city’s observance of National Historic Preservation Month, to recognize property owners who do outstanding work to preserve historic buildings or promote historic preservation, while following our local regulations that protect the built heritage within our Historic District. From nominations received each year, organizations and individuals demonstrating excellence in the rehabilitation or stewardship of a historic building, excellence in the design of compatible new construction, or lifetime achievement in historic preservation, are honored

For more information about the City of Valdosta Preservation Awards, contact Foster at (229) 259-3563 or at

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