Photo by Jay Blanton using a Canon 5D Mark IV with an 11-24mm lens on Thursday, June 3rd.
A few blocks north of Downtown Valdosta on North Patterson Street at the intersection with Gordon Street, you'll come across a large house under old oak trees that looks like something out of a movie; it's something you'd picture seeing way out in the country, not in the middle of Valdosta: This is the Crescent!
Construction started on the Crescent all the way back in 1898, built by United States Congressman William Stanley West. It is a three-story building with a monumental two-story semi-circular portico. It was designed by Atlanta architects Bleckley & Tyler and has also been known as the Colonel William S. West House.
There are 13 columns wrapping around the house; each one represents one of the original 13 colonies. The front porch is crescent-shaped and it's big- it has 23 rooms inside! Mr. West’s house now sits in the middle of town, just down the street from Valdosta State University; but when the house was first built in 1898, this house WAS out in the country... Valdosta just slowly grew around it over the years!
In the early 1900s, Mr. West had so much land surrounding the Crescent, that he decided to donate 50 acres of it to help establish something he'd been pushing for while in congress: a college for Valdosta!
In 1906, his dream became a reality when South Georgia State Normal College opened it's doors on the land he donated. South Georgia Normal College started out with a simple goal: they trained young women to become teachers.
As beautiful as the house is, by the late 1940s, it hadn’t been taken care of & had fallen into such disrepair & became such an eyesore that it was nearly demolished! Fortunately, In 1951, three ladies in the Garden Club saved it from demolition, and it became the home of all the Garden Clubs in Valdosta.
South Georgia Normal College eventually became Valdosta State University . The main (and most iconic) building on VSU’s campus sits on the same land Mr. West donated to start the school, and the name of that iconic building pays tribute to the man who helped establish the college: West Hall!
saving the Crescent
MRS. T.H. Smith
“Let us start with a vision” and she quoted Soloman who says, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” She took as her theme Restoration and Preservation. She had a vision - a far-sighted one - a dream of what might be done to restore and preserve The Crescent.
MRS. LeoNaRd Mederer
MRS. R.b. Whitehead
In 1951, The Garden Club purchased The Crescent, a 1898 southern mansion, for its home. The Garden Club was reorganized as The Garden Center with a council of seven clubs. A charter and bylaws were written and approved and in 1952, The Garden Center was incorporated and federated in 1953 with The Garden Club of Georgia, Inc. and the National Garden Clubs, Inc.
Restoration and preservation of The Crescent became the main purpose of The Garden Center, Inc. In May 1954, The Garden Club of Georgia Trophy for Outstanding Achievement was presented to The Garden Center, Inc. for The Crescent project. Mrs. T.H. Smith, Sr., Mrs. Leonard Mederer and Mrs. R.B. Whitehead were voted life members of the governing board of The Garden Center, Inc. Council for their outstanding and untiring efforts for this project. Thirty-two years, 1951-1983, were devoted to fund raising and work to complete the major restoration of The Crescent. In 1980, The Crescent was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Hyta Mederer, last of the original life members, died in 1997.
The holdings of The Garden Center, Inc. have increased and The Crescent Complex now (1999) includes a separate auditorium built in 1957, a Chapel converted in 1977 from the original wash house, the Jones Kindergarten School, circa 1900, was moved from its original site to the Crescent garden in 1986.
The Crescent is available to the public for rental and is a popular place for weddings, receptions and civic gatherings. The Garden Center, Inc. members keep it open Monday through Friday from 2:00 to 5:00 for tours. October 24, 1990 was a great day in the history of The Garden Center, Inc. At that time the parcel of land located at 901 North Toombs St. and housing a 3200 square foot brick office building was donated to The Garden Center, Inc. by Mr. Harley Langdale, Jr. in honor of his wife, Eileen Cox Langdale, a long time garden club member. The income it produces will be used to benefit The Garden Center, Inc.
The Garden Center Inc. participates in the life of the community, actively working with the Tree Commission, the Tourism Commission and the Parks Commission. On going projects are the annual Antiques Show and Sale in October, Christmas Open House for the public with days set aside for the school children’s tours, a holiday party for members in December, the Spring Flower Show and tours of the Crescent and garden. Improvements to the Garden Center complex include brick patios, shade gardens, garden lighting, wrought iron fencing, air conditioning of the second and third floors of The Crescent, redecorating of the “Bride’s Room,” an entrance hall chandelier and tile flooring in the auditorium. Major maintenance includes interior painting of The Crescent and the Chapel. Replacement and repair of the Auditorium building columns, a complete new roof for The Crescent and roof repairs to the Chapel.
The Board of Trustees of The Garden Center, Inc. fluctuates. In 2001, there are ten clubs; Amaryllis Garden Club, Azalea Garden Club, Camellia Garden Club, Designing Women, Dogwood Garden Club, Grand Gardeners Club, Holly Garden Club, Magnolia Garden Club, Southern Charm Garden Club and Town and Country Garden Club. The Garden Club, Inc. holds one general membership meeting each year in March.