Native: Building had lost its significance

Published 1:05 am Thursday, October 6, 2016

The building is shown as it appeared early in the last century in this photo from the book “Andalusia” by Kristy White. Courtesy photo

The building is shown as it appeared early in the last century in this photo from the book “Andalusia” by Kristy White.
Courtesy photo

The building taken down at 101 Pear St. on Wednesday has been a pharmacy, doctors’ offices and a hotel, but an architectural historian said it had lost its significance.

Andalusia native Bill Hansford said the building lost its architectural significance when the façade was changed. Hansford studied architecture at Auburn University before pursuing a career in medicine, and recently authored a book on the architecture of his hometown.

“This building was built by Alanzo Pelham in the late 1890s and was originally known as the Pelham Building,” he wrote. “It was designed in English Regency Revival style (same architecture as the Prestwood Building on Court Square). This architectural style found often in Savannah was unique to Alabama and the style itself made this building of architectural significance. Both buildings were likely designed by Frank Lockwood of Montgomery, Ala.

“The building lost all architectural significance when the Pear Street façade was changed (so, in my opinion the building at this time had no architectural significance),” he wrote on social media Wednesday. “It did represent much Andalusia history having served as drug store, physician offices, barber shop, shoe shop, gun store, and photography shop—all well documented.”

The Victoria Hotel once stood in the adjacent and vacant Pear Street lot, local historian Wiley Ward said.

“They built overflow rooms in the third floor of this building,” he said, pointing to the structure most recently known as Thagard and then Mallette Drugs.

Ward said the area once was Andalusia’s “red light district.” Aside from the hotel’s proximity to the railroad depots, he said, there was a saloon where the First National Bank or Timmerman building is now. There also was once a saloon in the Ward and Co. Building, he said.

Local historian Sue Bass Wilson also said the Victoria Hotel “became a hotel of ill repute toward the end.”

Wilson, who stood watching the demolition with Ward and others Wednesday, expressed disdain that “history was being destroyed.”

“One of the first radios was housed here,” Wilson posted on Facebook. “A large group of citizens listened to the broadcast from London of the abdication from the throne of the Duke of Windsor when he decided to marry a commoner Wallace Warfield Simpson! Are there any history enthusiasts left in town? As the National Trust for Historic Trust promotes ‘This place matters.’ It still does! It should to those who love Andalusia and our historic downtown!” According to the website of the National Historic Register, the structure was in the Andalusia Commercial Historic District, but the building was not on the register.