The Valdosta Daily Times
The Valdosta Garden Center again opens the doors of Valdosta’s landmark building this weekend for the annual Christmas at The Crescent.
On Monday, several women, representing the Garden Center’s consolidated garden clubs, decorated The Crescent in old-fashioned Christmas trimmings. This year’s theme shall evoke the splendor of an old-fashioned, family Christmas, said Edith Shepherd, a Garden Center representative.
Each garden club takes a different room within The Crescent and decorates it to match the theme. Past themes have celebrated Christmases around the world and other decorative ideas.
Christmas at The Crescent allows visitors to take a tour of the most famous building in Valdosta, a place which regularly attracts visitors from around the world. The tour includes the inside of The Crescent, the Kindergarten House, the Chapel, the Reception Hall and formal gardens.
A Garden Center letter once described the building’s connection to Valdosta and Lowndes County: “The Crescent is the symbol most often used in publicizing Valdosta and also the entire South Georgia region. It is the premier local site to which visitors are directed and has hosted tourists from throughout the United States as well as many foreign countries. The Crescent is the lovely setting of numerous weddings and other social events each year.”
Col. William S. West built The Crescent as his home circa 1898. The North Patterson Street residence became Valdosta’s first to have electric lights, indoor plumbing and central heating. The large oaks that dominate the grounds now were planted after The Crescent was built; the house was not built around the trees as many people assume.
Yet, by the middle of the 20th century, The Crescent was one of several local buildings earmarked for demolition as one in a series of projects that would remove numerous historic structures from the city before the historic-preservation movement gained local ground in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Yet, The Crescent received a preservation movement of its own in the early 1950s.
In 1945, at the end of World War II, local garden clubs pushed to beautify Valdosta. It was during this era that the Valdosta City Council approved the nickname of “The Azalea City of Georgia” for Valdosta, according to The Garden Center’s written history.
In the late ’40s, the garden clubs established the study of wild flowers and the creation of wild-flower gardens throughout the city. Flower-arrangement and horticultural lessons were conducted, and the united local garden clubs were recognized on the state and national levels for their endeavors. By 1949, the local Garden Club represented seven circles.
Following this growth and influence, the Garden Club learned of the potential fate of demolition for The Crescent in the early 1950s. Through the efforts of members Mrs. Leonard Mederer, Mrs. T.H. Smith and Mrs. R.B. Whitehead, the Garden Club purchased The Crescent in 1951, making the Wests’ former home the new restoration project of the Garden Club.
At approximately this same time, the Garden Club was reorganized as the Garden Center representing seven local garden clubs. In 1952, the Garden Center was incorporated. In 1953, the Garden Center Inc. was federated with the Garden Club of Georgia and National Garden Clubs Inc. And, in 1954, the Garden Center Inc. received the outstanding-achievement trophy for The Crescent project, and Mederer, Smith and Whitehead were voted the Garden Center’s first life members.
The annual Christmas at The Crescent is an open house which serves as the Garden Center’s Christmas present to the community.
CHRISTMAS AT THE CRESCENT
The Garden Center hosts its annual holiday open house.
Where: The Crescent, 904 N. Patterson St.
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8; 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9.
Admission: Free. Open to the public.