The Valdosta Heritage Foundation Board of Directors voted at their February meeting to make Valdosta's oldest house available to a private entity to be used as a premiere indoor and outdoor events center, provided the land use is approved by the Valdosta City Council.
The J.T. Roberts House, named after Valdosta's first mayor, was gifted in 1999 to the Valdosta Heritage Foundation by Katherine Reddles and Bootsie Smotherman, descendants of J.T. Roberts. The Victorian 1891 Queen Anne style home, located at 216 Wells Street, features two-stories with an attic and a tower, and it is surrounded by other impressive historic homes in the Fairview neighborhood which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Following the fire on Jan. 26, 2011 that severely damaged the Roberts House, the Valdosta Heritage Foundation raised the required funds to restore the historic home. Since then, however, the foundation had not completed the interior restoration because they were studying the best use for the house. As a result of the study, the Valdosta Heritage Foundation Board designated the Roberts House for use as an events center for functions such as weddings, receptions, dinners, conferences, parties and showers.
In spite of the 2011 fire, the Valdosta landmark has retained most of its original historic features. The renovated house will feature large open spaces on the first floor, a catering kitchen, and multiple restrooms to accommodate large and small groups.
The second floor will be finished with its original four large bedrooms, and each will have its own full bath to be used for overnight accommodations. An original sunroom upstairs will be restored to a sitting room overlooking the vast camellia gardens. The famous balcony above the front porch where J.T. Roberts enjoyed his "fair view" of the neighborhood and Downtown Valdosta will also remain intact.
To the sides and rear of the property are several acres of land which could be further developed into additional gardens and used for a variety of outdoor events under tents or in the shade of old pecan trees. The gingerbread-laced front porch can be utilized for dinner, outdoor receptions, and other special events.
The grounds surrounding the house were designated in 2017 as part of the Georgia Camellia Trail because of its large variety of historic camellia plantings. Dozens of camellias can be seen blooming between November and March of each year, and the gardens are open to the public.
According to the Valdosta Heritage Foundation, the interior restoration of the Roberts House is set to be completed by the end of 2018.
For more information about the restoration and leasing options, contact James Horton at the Valdosta Historic Preservation Office at 229-259-3563. All inquiries regarding zoning and land use approval should be directed to Tracy Tolley in the Valdosta Planning and Zoning Division at 229-259-3563.