If Mr. Ingram were to look at downtown Valdosta today with all of its hustle and bustle, traffic lights and paved streets, he would have a hard time identifying his own building. In his day, the early 1900s, his building would have had horse-drawn wagons parked out front or trotting along the dusty dirt roads. Taking advantage of the needs of the current mode of transportation, the Ingram-Hewlett Harness Company set up shop in this very building. In 1911 Ingram-Hewlett was located at 113-115 West Central Avenue. Their lettering on the rear of the building can still be seen from the downtown merchants’ parking lot.
The structural brick building was built around the turn of the century and consists of 3 8,000 square foot floors. Over the years the building has been home to a myriad of businesses including the Stewart Candy Co. and a funeral home. As you can see from the painted glass pane over the main staircase on Central Avenue, it also served as the headquarters for Company “E” of the 121st Infantry Georgia National Guard.
After being abandoned for several years, Lee Development purchased the building in 1997 with hopes of restoring some of the luster to the historic structure. With tax incentives from the Department of Interior (DOI), Albert Slone (a partner in Lee Development and former owner of ASA Engineering & Surveying, Inc.) sought to renovate 4,000 square foot of the bottom floor for his company’s use. As you can see it was a daunting task.
In an effort to maintain the building’s historic integrity, the DOI’s architect required that that the original unobstructed and central beam remains in place. He also asked that the open “feel” of the space be kept and the front façade be restored to its original appearance. With a little bit of luck (the front double doors were found upstairs), a year of hard work and interior design by Patti Girardin, ASA’s workspace is as you see it today. The restoration has received the Heroes of Preservation award from the Valdosta Heritage Foundation and the Economic restructuring Large Business Award from the Georgia Main Street Program of the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism.