Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

June 12, 2014

New life for old courthouse

VALDOSTA — Though mostly unused for several years, the historic Lowndes County Courthouse remains a jewel of Downtown Valdosta.

The building dominates downtown. The courthouse square remains a gathering place for everything from Farm Days to the 100 Black Men of Valdosta barbecue contest to the annual brown bag lunch concerts.

This week, the Lowndes County Historical Courthouse Preservation Committee has hosted a series of public input meetings to discuss future uses for the courthouse. The third public hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. today, Commission Chambers, Lowndes County Administrative Building, 327 N. Ashley St.

There are many possibilities for the courthouse’s future. It has already experienced a rich past.

Valdosta was only 45 years old in 1905 when the Lowndes County Courthouse opened its doors. The new courthouse reflected the permanence which townspeople had come to regard Valdosta as the Lowndes County seat. Many of the buildings still in Downtown Valdosta were built during this era.

At the time, the courthouse not only heard the trials against the accused, it housed them behind bars and served as the site of execution for those condemned.

The courthouse underwent many changes through the years — both in its anatomy and in Downtown Valdosta. Growing, adapting, changing, while Valdosta became home to an Air Force base, a university, an interstate and more.

The Lowndes County Courthouse has remained a constant throughout all of Valdosta and Lowndes County’s many changes for the past century running, but in 2010, county offices moved to the judicial complex. Since, the future of the courthouse has remained a mystery.

Tours for tourists, school groups and visitors could be given regularly, as many significant events took place there. Given the historic courtrooms, one can easily picture a movie based on a John Grisham novel being filmed there.

Most importantly, the past is as important to our present as our future is. Why not use an incredible resource that is available to all in order to promote our community and enhance our quality of life? The commission wants to hear all ideas.

More information: Contact Amanda Smith, (229) 671-2400; or asmith@lowndescounty.com.

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