The Valdosta Daily Times
In the right hands, a divided house can again mount a sound foundation and settle into a new era, as proved on Saturday when the 100 Black Men of Valdosta unveiled a transplanted house that’ll likely serve as their headquarters at its Martin Luther King Jr. Drive location.
The house, dated back as late as 1885, sat on one of three properties that the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority was clearing for business parks, but authority board members Roy Copeland, chairman, and Alan Ricketts, project manager, couldn’t bear to see the house razed from Lowndes County’s living history. Copeland, also president of the 100 Black Men of Valdosta, knew just the place for such a house.
“They asked if we had the land to relocate the building, and I said ‘Yes,’” said Copeland. “So they gave us $20,000 to move it and they paid the cost to clean up the lot where the building had been removed moved. The industrial authority placed a critical role in having this building placed here.”
In order to move the house to its new location a mile and a half away, it had to be moved in two sections, according to Ricketts, who said the pieces were shuttled at about 5 miles per hour.
“You couldn’t move it as one entity, it was just too big” said Ricketts. “Now all the work to get that done was, from Mr. Washington’s standpoint, determining how you’d take the sections apart, how you’d get them transferred over here and how you’d put all back together.”
The 100 Black Men of Valdosta approached Tyco Plant Manager Daniel Washington about pulling off the small wonder of splitting, transporting and reconstructing the historic house.
“They approached us when this old house was on Highway 41, outside of town here,” said Washington. “We got together with this guy named Aaron, who had moved a house. Our crew took the roof off, and laid it on top of the old building instead of hauling it with a trailer. After a few days, we moved it over here on MLK Jr. Drive. We worked with bricklayer to build a foundation and then we put it together one piece at a time.”
Saturday morning was an open house of sorts, a way to show the community and investors what they’ve gotten in the facility, according to Copeland.
“I think, number one, its inspirational in that it’s a wonderful facility in community will respect such a facility and, number two, it will provide a home base for the 100 and many of its programs,” said Copeland.
While the industrial authority gifted the building to the non-profit organization, the money to fund the project came from Valdostans, according to Copeland, who described the Azalea City residents as the most generous and gracious group of benefactors he has ever worked with.
“The organization started it’s building fund eight or nine years ago with a $50 contribution, literally,” said Copeland. “We probably raised, in-kind, somewhere in excess of a $200,000.”
“We build them now so fast, you don’t have the quality workmanship put into them as they used to,” said Washington. “That house was sitting on bricks in 1885. Look at it! It’s still together. There are some timbers in that house that are over 30 feet long! The rafters in the house are composed of one piece of wood.”
The 100 Black Men of Valdosta describe themselves as a force for cultivating outstanding men whose collective skills, experience, and training achieve meaningful gains for the African-American community, according to the organization’s website. The group expends added effort in grooming young African-American males, helping to ensure the youth develop into strong men.
Learn more about the 100 Black Men of Valdosta by visiting their website, 100BlackMenofValdosta.org