Like Forrest Gump, Jeff Davis finds himself just drifting and floating around in time, being int the right place at the right time. So said the Dublin businessman, who was honored by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation this past Friday at its annual meeting in Milledgeville. The members of the trust honored Davis’ restoration of the Old Dublin Post Office on Madison Street with its Marguerite Williams Award.
The award, named in honor of the first vice president of The Georgia Trust and a longtime proponent of historic preservation in Georgia, is periodically given out to the project that has had the greatest impact on preservation in the state.
“This project sets an excellent example of how to preserve and repurpose a decommissioned historic government building, a particular issue facing preservationists today,” the Trust proclaimed.
“I am grateful to be a part of this award. The building deserves it historically and architecturally,” Davis commented on receiving the prestigious award.
The Post Office was originally completed in August 1912 after a long series of delays of funding and alterations of plans. Davis completed the bulk of the work and held an open house on the 100th anniversary of the opening of the building as a Post Office.
“When I bought the building, it took me about four or five times in there to realize that about 85 percent of the building was still here,” remarked Davis, who personally flyspecked every nook and cranny of the sturdy structure finding hidden clues to its past. Sometimes the clues came to him in the form of stories of bygone days and visitors to the building. He discovered secret windows in the top of the work room, where the postmaster and inspectors could spy on employees, looking for sticking fingers while they were sorting mail and taking money orders.
Calling the project a team effort between himself, local banks, businesses and interested citizens, Davis claims as his only credit of simply putting back a building which was already there.
Now that the project has made it through it first phase, Davis is taking a short break before marshaling his resources to make his hometown an even more special place in the future.
“A lot more good things are going to happen in downtown Dublin in the future,” Davis asserts.
The Georgia Trust was organized in 1973 to help Georgians to understand and appreciate the irreplaceable value of historic buildings and places and their relevance to modern life. Its members strive to be careful stewards of our state’s historic buildings. The group hopes to boost local economies by stewardship by reinforcing downtown areas and historic neighborhoods.
“There will never be another one like this building. Even though I am the caretaker of it now, this building belongs to everybody. When you put yourself in that context, you can’t really say that you own this building,” Davis believes.
“It’s a special building. It holds a special place in people’s hearts,” remarked Davis, who operates a data-technology business inside the 101-year-old building.
"This year's winners represent a tremendous dedication to restoring and revitalizing Georgia's historic buildings and communities," said Mark C. McDonald, president of The Georgia Trust.
For more than 35 years, the Trust has recognized preservation projects and individuals throughout Georgia who have made significant contributions to the field of historic preservation. Awards are presented on the basis of the contributions of the person or project to the community and/or state and on compliance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
Now celebrating 40 years of work, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the country's largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations. The organization is committed to preserving and enhancing Georgia's communities and their diverse historic resources for the education and enjoyment of all.
The Georgia Trust generates community revitalization by finding buyers for endangered properties acquired by its Revolving Fund and raises awareness of other endangered historic resources through an annual listing of Georgia's 10 "Places in Peril." The Trust also helps revitalize downtowns by providing design and technical assistance in 102 Georgia Main Street cities; trains Georgia's teachers in 63 Georgia school systems to engage students in discovering state and national history through their local historic resources; and advocates for funding, tax incentives and other laws aiding preservation efforts.
To learn more about Historic Preservation in Georgia, go to www.georgiatrust.org.