Category Archives: Vidalia GA

Paul Anderson Youth Home, Vidalia

The late Paul Anderson (1932-1994) was known as “The World’s Strongest Man” and beginning in 1961 channeled his fame into helping troubled youth get their lives on track. Truett Cathy, of Chic-Fil-A fame, was his first major patron in this work. After first operating the Paul Anderson Youth Home out of the Mimosa Motel in Vidalia, Anderson purchased this property in 1962, which now includes modern dormitories and other structures.

A marker placed at the site in 1995 notes: Paul Anderson was born October 17, 1932 in Toccoa and attended Furman University where he began lifting weights. In 1955 he traveled as a goodwill ambassador from the United States to the Soviet Union and there his lifting surpassed many world records. Later that year he won the World Championships. He brought home the gold medal from the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. To date, he was the last American to win a gold medal in the super heavyweight division. On June 12, 1957, he lifted a total of 6,270 pound in a backlit, which was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest weight lifted by a human being. Paul Anderson married Glenda Garland in 1959 and the Andersons established the Paul Anderson Youth Home in 1961. The Youth Home is a Christian rehabilitation facility for young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one who otherwise might be confined to penal institutions. Paul Anderson became a professional to raise funds through demonstrations and speaking engagements to support the Youth Home. Over 2,000 young men benefited from the home and the unselfish devotion of Georgia’s beloved Paul Anderson before his death August 15, 1994.

This 1910 Colonial Revival home is the centerpiece of the property.

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Masonic Hall & Darby Bank Building, Circa 1916, Vidalia

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The first two businesses to occupy the lower flowers of this building were a pharmacy and doctor’s office. First National Bank located here in 1926 and upon their departure around 1931, the Darby Bank moved in and remained until 1973. The Masonic Lodge was located on the third floor from the 1910s until they relocated in the 1980s.

Vidalia Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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First National Bank Building, 1910, Vidalia

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W. D. Donovan, the first president of the First National Bank, built this structure using the design of Ivey P. Crutchfield. By the late 1920s or early 1930s, First National moved to a different location and this served as Darby Bank for a time.

Vidalia Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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100 Southwest Main Street, Vidalia

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The architecture of this structure, one of the nicest commercial buildings in Vidalia, would suggest it may have been a bank, but in all the literature about the historic district, I cannot seem to locate an identification and there isn’t a walking tour guide like some towns have. This is a bit surprising, but I hope someone will be able to help.

Vidalia Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Western Auto Ghost Sign, Vidalia

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Vidalia Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Sears Roebuck Sign, Vidalia

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This is on the rear side of the old Sears store, above the freight door.

Vidalia Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Coca-Cola Sign, Vidalia

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This restored vintage sign is now used to advertise a law firm.

Vidalia Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Historic Storefronts, Vidalia

vidalia-ga-meadows-street-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2013Meadows Street

Vidalia’s downtown still has quite a few historic storefronts, and many are still in use.

vidalia-ga-historic-storefronts-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2013Main Street

The black front on the building just left of center is Vitrolite, an increasingly endangered mid-20th-century “modern” building material that’s most often seen on theatres and jewelry stores.

Vidalia Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Leader-Rosansky House, 1903, Vidalia

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This home, with Neoclassical and Queen Anne elements, was built for Moses Leader and Nahum Aaron Rosansky, likely by Ivey P. Crutchfield. It’s the only surviving home associated with any of Vidalia’s founding fathers. Leader and Rosansky were Polish Jews who immigrated to America in 1890 to escape anti-semitism. They didn’t know each other when the first met in Augusta and formed a business partnership. Moses Leader came to Vidalia first, while Rosansky stayed behind in Augusta building capital. Leader peddled goods from door to door at first. Rosansky was in Vidalia by about 1895, when the two opened their store. The Leader & Rosansky Store was the biggest in Vidalia from the late 1890s until its closure, and the owners were instrumental in developing the commercial district of the town. The pair also bought over sixty acres of land and developed it for commercial, religious, and residential purposes. Mr. Leader’s sister, Rosa, came to Vidalia in 1902 and married Mr. Rosansky. It was a thriving family business. Rosa Rosansky died in the flu outbreak of 1918 and the store was closed by 1928. Mr. Rosansky died in 1930. They had two daughters, but only one, Anna Rosansky Bauman, lived to adulthood. She sold the house to Marvin Shuman in 1945. The Shuman’s daughter, Anita Shuman Momand notes that when they purchased the home the spindles on the cast iron fence were each painted a different color.

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National Register of Historic Places

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Peterson-Wilbanks House, 1916, Vidalia

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Ava McArthur Peterson Wilbanks bought the lot for this house, a half-acre cotton patch at the time, in 1911. She first married A. A. Peterson, Jr., one of the largest landowners in Toombs and Montgomery counties. Upon Mr. Peterson’s death she married H. P. Wilbanks. The house was lost to foreclosure in 1936, at the height of the Great Depression.  It was purchased by W. Frank Jenkins in 1940. Jenkins was a grandson of W. T. Jenkins, who founded Vidalia in 1890 and was the namesake of its predecessor, Jenkins Station. He and his wife Katharine were the last residential owners of the house, living here until the 1980s.

The architect, Ivey P. Crutchfield (1878-1952) was responsible for commercial and religious work in Soperton, Glennville, Reidsville, Mount Vernon, Cochran and other nearby towns. He also built several other homes and commercial structures in Vidalia, including the town’s first bank. Crutchfield, a native of Wilkinson County, never received formal training in architecture but was a working architect by 1916. He left Georgia and was a successful architect in Fort Myers, Florida, until his retirement.

National Register of Historic Places

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