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INSIDE LOOK: Lowndes County spending millions to renovate historical courthouse

Project restoring building to 1905 design
Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-09 18:12:49-05

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Downtown Valdosta is going through a transformation right now. At the center of that transformation stands a courthouse with lots of history.

Lowndes County is spending millions of dollars to restore the building to the way it looked in 1905. From the outside, the Lowndes County Courthouse looks much like it did more than a century ago.

Inside, a major project to get floors, ceilings and halls back to the way they were is playing out.

“Right now we are on time and under budget,” explained Lowndes County Manager, Paige Dukes. “This is an $11 million project.” That work includes preserving marble on the walls. It’s from Georgia, and it’s original to the building.”

Dukes said the millions of dollars funding the project come from a special purpose local option sales tax. A referendum was passed by citizens specifically for this project and others in the community. “We are returning this facility to our citizens at no cost to our property tax payers,” Dukes added.

Matt Ryan is superintendent for Allstate Construction. That is the firm taking on the work.

He lives in Lowndes County. Ryan explained the supply chain has presented challenges in getting this project done. “Like any contractor in the U.S., electrical switch gear runs behind,” Ryan said. “We’ve got one set that’s a little bit behind our original delivery date, but it’s not really affecting the schedule much.”

"This is an $11 million project."
- Paige Dukes

The historical courtroom, with its wooden floors, is going to stay a courtroom in case they need it in the future. It can also be a community event space.

“I think it’s fantastic,” added David DiSalvo. He is executive director for Visit Valdosta. “It’ll draw more attention downtown.”

Underneath the courtroom, the basement will feature large restrooms, meeting and lounge space. It'll be a place for visitors to relax when they come to town.

DiSalvo said it could be a great destination for downtown visitors, because, “there’s a lot of traffic that goes up and down I-75.” He said getting those folks off 75 and exposing them to what is going on downtown could drive more tourism.

DiSalvo added lodging in 2022 brought in over $74 million in revenue. That’s an 8.4 percent increase over the year before.

“It’s important for us to remember where we come from,” Dukes said.

Now, work is progressing to keep that history alive and pave the way to a the next hundred years of economic growth.

They’re scheduled to open in early summer.