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Places We Frequented  ...Yesterday

FINALLY!!!

 

The Pig & Whistle

   

Arctic Bear

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Burger Chef

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Jimmie's Hotdogs

 

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Stem's Restaurant

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The Campus

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The Wig Wam

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Albany Downtown

landma3.jpg (7899 bytes)Albany on Pine Street looking West ... sent by Betty Casey Ford ('62).  The picture was bought at an antique store in Florida by her sister-in-law and given to Betty.  It also says GO-9 at the bottom of the page.  Can anyone identify? Response: This is the Henry Binns Hotel according to Wilburn Nicholson (’53), who is a native Albanian and grew up in the downtown area.  It was located between the New Albany Hotel and the Courthouse. 

 

 

The Friendship Oak

can also be viewed at

Arboresque

 

Article on Artesian Wells of Albany

from the book, "Glancing Backward"- 1986

(submitted by Dioneca Denson, Class of 1957)

The Lincoln Tree

Submitted by David Sherman ('61)
A 1947 photo looking over Sandy Bottom, lying between Roosevelt Street and Flint Avenue,

(click to enlarge)

... with the old jail shown immediately behind the courthouse, and the Albany & Northern/Georgia Northern Railroad freight warehouse and station behind it facing Flint Avenue, and with the large, white brick St. Nicholas Hotel to the right still on the corner of Flint and North Washington Street. In the distance is the Central of Georgia roundhouse with its black steel water tank, and behind it the tall concrete railroad coal chute, which was later demolished when steam engines were phased out in the early 1950's. The roof of the Union Station Depot, now the Thronateeska Heritage Museum, can be seen to the the right of the roundhouse. Behind the coal chute at the intersection of Society and Front Street are the large round tanks of the old Albany gas works, and immediately behind them the shops of the Georgia Northern/Albany & Northern Railroad, with Reynolds Brothers Lumber Company in the far distance to the left. Most of what is shown in this 65 year old photo has long since disappeared. This busy downtown railroad center in Albany was then the heart of the passenger and transportation network in the Southwest Georgia area, before interstate highways and air transportation became viable alternatives, with semi-trailer trucks taking over so much of the intercity and long haul freight business from the railroads.

Iris Court on Pine Avenue, Albany

Click to enlarge!

        

Iris Court was across Pine Avenue from the State Theatre, and facing north, with the back of the house facing the old Post Office. They had just begun tearing it down for a parking lot, as I recall, when Edward Vason Jones, the architect, bought it from Durrett Wrecking Co. in 1965 and had his crews come in and disassemble it and move it to Moultrie for a client, where it sits today

Iris Court was moved to Moultrie in 1965 and restored. 

 

North Washington Street

Click to enlarge!

    

Albany has torn down or lost all of its 19th century buildings in downtown Albany, with those show attached on N. Washington Street being, by default, the oldest commercial structures remaining in private ownership. The red, two story building was built in 1885, with the others following soon afterwards. Two other buildings are older - the old Tift Railroad Depot and Warehouse, now owned by Thronateeska, and the Bridge House. But they are owned by quasi-public or public interests.

 

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First State Bank

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 National Bank

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 Citizens & Southern Bank

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New Albany Hotel and  "C" Room

Broad Ave Elementary

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Dupree Drugs

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Rosenberg's

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 Churchwell's

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Turner AFB

 

 

Circa 1950 Aerial View of Albany

Rawson Circle - 1936

 

Third Ave Trees

 Old Bridge House 

 

 Confederate Soldier

The statue is now located out on the Philema Road (just inside Lee Co.) at a location that is very well kept and fitting.  At one time, it had been removed and placed in the Oakview Cemetery.

 Showing at Albany Movie Theatres August 1949!

Old Dougherty County Courthouse

(built 1903; demolished in 1966 to make way for new courthouse on same site)

Old Albany City Hall

(built 1910; demolished 1969)

Albany Municipal Stadium ~ circa 1938

 

The Union Passenger Station - 1910

(Southwest Georgia in Vintage Postcards)

 

Albany Theatre

 Panama City Beach
"HangOut"

 

Old Water Tower on Roosevelt

Submitted by David Sherman ('61)

A few years ago, David Sherman (61) wrote and asked if I had a picture of the old Albany Water Tower.  I had one, but not the one he wanted … he, and friend Huddy Hudgens ('63), specifically wanted a picture of the Water Tower with the tall vertical pylon sign.

Recently, I received this email from David: A July 1947 (colored) photograph of the city water tank shown when the lighted "ALBANY" pylon sign was still on its top has finally been located.  This prominent sign was erected in approximately 1937 and remained there thru about 1951 before it was taken down, and during that period could be seen for several miles at night when approaching Albany.  This photograph was taken by Wayne Carroll McClung, Sr. of Dixie Theatre Supply, and he and Huddy Hudgens found it in an album of his old slides. 

The tank itself was erected in 1932 by the R.D. Cole Mfg. Co. of Newnan, Georgia.  The sign was approximately 35 feet tall and had large letters spelling "ALBANY" on two sides.  The pylon the letters were mounted on was approximately 4 feet square, and the letters were lighted with white screw-in bulbs maintained by the City Water, Light, and Gas Department.  One had to climb up inside it to change the bulbs.  It was long a landmark of this area, and pilots at Spence Field in Moultrie who were practicing night flying exercises would use it as a known point to locate before circling it and returning to their home base. 

Unfortunately, I doubt that it would ever pass any sign ordinance in the City of Albany today.

 

Water Tower with Albany sign

   Water Tower without sign was the tank that existed BEFORE the current one was erected in 1932  

Water Tower today

 This black and white photo had to have been taken after the 1940 tornado, as the damage that was done to the courthouse has clearly been repaired, and the new and differently designed clock tower erected on top.

Vintage Albany Georgia presentation of 1940 Albany GA tornado

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZe-XXLKi5w

 

HISTORY OF THE VICTORY CLUB

2125 NEWTON ROAD, ALBANY, GEORGIA

 

Many of these notes were made from a telephone discussion held on June 3, 2008, with Irene S. Heidt of Marietta, Georgia, who has lived there for 30 years.  Much valuable assistance and critical information was also provided by Huddy Hudgens, with help from his many contacts, in addition to others I talked with such as Bob Drake.  Eight lengthy newspaper articles from The Albany Journal, which followed this case very closely reporting on it over a 7 month period, also provided much detailed information that was unavailable elsewhere.

 

Irene is 82 years old with a fantastic memory for detail, and generously shared her time and knowledge with me concerning the history of this once extremely popular Albany restaurant.

 

Her father, Varner F. Sharman of 509 Second Avenue in Albany, was born in Doerun and built the Victory Club in 1941.  It was planned as a restaurant from the very beginning even though he had no prior experience in the restaurant business, having previously operated a liquor store.

 

Sharman had purchased this 17 or 18 acre tract - located approximately 3 miles from downtown Albany - from the county in the late 1930’s, which had once used it as the county poor house/farm, but he delayed building on it until he could finish paying for the land.  Sharman built where he did because he wanted a roadhouse style restaurant outside the city limits on a main highway where he had more freedom to operate under the existing local liquor laws and the sheriff.

 

 It was located on the Newton Road, paved with brick from downtown Albany to beyond this site, and was one of the main routes leading into Albany from the south.  (This was before Slappey Blvd. was constructed)  The site was across the highway from the county prison and was also just north of the new Albany Municipal Airport, completed in 1939, with regular service provided by Eastern Airlines.

 

But with war looming the airport was taken over in March and April 1940 for use as a military pilots training facility by Darr Aero Tech, a U.S. Army Air Force contract flying school.  In August of that year barracks were built for the student pilots across the road from the airport, which initially were American cadets, but in May 1941 thru early 1943 was involved exclusively in training Royal Air Force British cadets who learned to fly using bi-wing Stearman aircraft.  After that, it reverted back to training American pilots until the program in Albany was deactivated on December 31, 1944, at which time the airport was returned to civilian use.

 

Irene’s father designed this field rock structure himself and constructed it with the help of a talented black mason.  After it was framed in but before it was totally completed her father realized he had made some mistakes and had a contractor friend of his, Frank Hadden who owned Hadden’s Flowers & Gifts, suggest and make some modifications to it, including two indoor and two outdoor rest rooms and corrections to a floor that did not slope correctly and hence did not properly drain water.  When finished, Irene chose the name “Victory Club” herself because of World War II. 

 

Irene was an only child and her father would let her do just about anything she wanted, including letting her name his new restaurant.  It being near Darr Aero Tech adjacent to the Albany airport where the British Boys were in flight training, her father put up a dart board and they would come in frequently to shoot darts and drink beer and scotch with no ice – their favorites.

 

The restaurant parking lot was never paved while her father owned it, so daily he would drag a railroad crosstie behind a vehicle to keep the lot smooth and in good shape.  Billy and she paved it once they managed the restaurant.

 

Irene married Billy Heidt in January of 1943.  In November 1943 Billy was sent by the Army to the European Theatre, ultimately going all the way to Berlin.  He returned to Albany after the War in December 1945. 

 

Her father was called to duty in the Navy, leaving Albany in 1944 being sent to the Pacific Theatre on board a ship involved in the invasion of Iwo Jima, Guam, and other Pacific Islands.  When he departed for the service he rented the restaurant to a popular Albanian, Johnny Vills, who was born in Austria in 1884 and had come to Albany in 1925, and who ran the restaurant as Johnny Vills Victory Club for about 2 ½ years until her father returned from the War in 1946.  In that year Billy and Roy Jones became partners in the restaurant while Johnny left for another opportunity.

 

Johnny reportedly had been trained as a chef before he left Europe, and during his time renting the Victory Club enhanced its reputation as an outstanding local eating establishment for which it was long afterwards widely and affectionately known.  Albanians loved to eat at the Victory Club. 

 

Johnny had been encouraged by others to purchase the White House Restaurant, which was located north of Albany on old U.S. 19 (now N. Jefferson St.) which was the main highway into the city from that direction, with the restaurant being directly across the road from the old American Legion Public Golf Course near the intersection with the Philema Road.  He did so believing many customers would follow him there.  As he later acknowledged, it was a terrible business mistake and he went broke, but remained on good terms with Irene and her father.  Johnny had left them several good recipes, among which were some very popular salad dressings including the Roquefort style dressing originated at the Victory Club by him about 1946.  Johnny Vills was 69 when he died April 18, 1954.

 

In 1949 the Albany Cardinals baseball team moved to their new Cardinal Park facility a short distance to the north of the restaurant on the Newton Road.  They played here as a farm team for the St. Louis Cardinals until they finished their last season in 1957.

Business at the popular Victory Club continued strong with people from across Southwest Georgia as regular customers, so the need for additional capacity became apparent.  They employed architect Robert Stephens to make the changes, adding private dining rooms which ultimately increased the seating capacity to over 300 people.  He had to use Jamaican Brick as field stone was no longer available in quantity.  Originally the restaurant had no air conditioning but rather a water cooled system, but this was later replace with a large compressor unit.

 

In December 1945 her husband, Billy Heidt, came back to the job he had held before the War as a railroad mail clerk traveling on the trains, but as this function was phased out by the government he went to work at the restaurant with his father-in-law and Roy Jones, where he primarily selected and cut the meat.  About 1955 her father got out of the restaurant business and turned it over to Roy, Billy, and Irene to manage.

 

Her father died in November 1960 at age 54, and she inherited all his assets including the Victory Club.  After Roy Jones had left about 1955, Irene and Billy operated it together until 1967 when they divorced and she rented it to him, but by 1969 Billy had gone bankrupt.  He then operated Merry Acres Restaurant on the Dawson Road which also did not prove a financial success for him.  Later, he went to a small restaurant near Tift Park, and finally back to the post office where he worked until he died in April 1989.

 

After 1969 Irene rented it to Jimmy Gray, who did not help the business, and afterwards to Herman Lloyd, who did a good job and made good money there.  Finally she leased it to hardnosed businessman Jim Hutchinson for $1,800 a month who operated it as “My Place”, and who subsequently subleased it to Canadian Stan Adams which was not allowed under her lease.  Adams was an individual who had come to Albany from Atlanta and called it “Bogey’s Victory Club”. 

 

Two men, John Young and James Parker, became partners with Adams, each having a one-third interest, but the three-way partnership turned sour.  Hutchinson then had to take the club back from sub-lessee Adams and his associates, who had done extensive refurbishing but had struggled with the nightclub and failed to make ends meet.  At that point Hutchinson entered into a separate pact with Adams which left Young and Parker out in the cold without them being consulted, which enraged them.

 

After the club had closed at 1 a.m. Sunday morning, January 18, 1981, the Victory Club was totally destroyed by fire.  It was clearly a case of arson, the main dining room having been drenched with at least 4 ½ gallons of gasoline.   Hutchinson and Adams were said to have been the last persons in the club shortly before it burned, leaving there to go to the Plantation Club in Baker County.  Sixteen minutes after they left the bartender at the Victory Club returned and found the restaurant a raging inferno.  An Albany fireman was injured and hospitalized as a result of fighting the blaze.  Irene Heidt learned about it only when a friend called her after midnight from the Plantation Club saying they had seen it on fire as they drove to the club.  She had to level the remaining standing ruins.

 

Hutchinson carried a $100,000 insurance policy on the contents of the restaurant alone, while its owner, Irene Heidt, had insured the contents and building for $250,000.  Police charged Hutchinson and Adams with arson basing their case heavily on circumstantial evidence.  Adams’ former partners Young and Parker had been found by police to have had airtight alibis as to their whereabouts on the night of the fire, and were never implicated.

 

On March 5th District Attorney Hobart Hind went before Senior State Court Judge Rosser Malone attempting to link Hutchinson and Adams to the fire, charging among other things that Hutchinson set the fire to gain $100,000 in insurance proceeds which he needed desperately to finance a bowling alley.  For some reason he failed to subpoena a potentially key witness - the State Fire Marshall investigator who had handled the case.  Malone found insufficient evidence to bind the case over to the Dougherty County Grand Jury for possible indictment, stating that the mere suspicion of a crime was not sufficient. 

 

Hind had earlier acknowledged that he was personally acquainted with Hutchinson and that Hutchinson had vigorously supported him in his race for the D.A.’s office.  After the ruling by Malone, Hind stated that he did not intend to waste the taxpayers’ money on prosecuting a flimsy case and had no further plans to prosecute the case or bring it before a grand jury.  Ultimately, however, the strong pressure of local public opinion caused the elected district attorney to reconsider and exercise his prerogative, taking the case directly to the grand jury. 

 

After his special presentation before the grand jury, Hutchinson and Adams were subsequently indicted for first degree arson with a bond of $50,000 placed on each man.  While awaiting trial Hutchinson’s bond was reduced to $15,000, and Hutchinson signed the bond for Adams, his tenant. 

 

A trial was held before the Dougherty County Superior Court where two prominent, wealthy, and influential individuals testified as character witnesses for Hutchinson; they were Mrs. Cleair Gray, wife of the powerful publisher of the Albany Herald, mayor of the City of Albany, and board chairman of Gray Communications Systems, Inc. and Gus Guzman, a consultant of Gray Communications Systems, Inc. 

 

At the same trial two key state witnesses, including the bartender who had discovered the fire soon after Hutchinson and Adams had left, mysteriously disappeared or became “unavailable” immediately before the trial and did not appear, raising the possibility that the state’s witnesses had been tampered with.  But in the end a jury, within minutes of deliberation, found Hutchinson and his co-defendant Adams innocent of all arson charges.  Having thus been absolved completely of the crime of arson, Hutchinson could never again be charged with the crime and was able to collect the $100,000 fire insurance policy.

 

It was indicated in the press that the investigation and prosecution had been very poorly conducted.  No one else was ever arrested, brought to trial, or convicted; thus ended the case, and The Victory Club.

 

                                                                                                   Compiled by

                                                                                                            David M. Sherman, Class of 1961

 

Today

Renovated Bridge House

The newly restored structure

(courtesy The Albany Journal)

Thronateeska Today

Old planetarium / Railway Freight building at left; Original brick street leads to entrance.

(picture from Smithsonian.com)

 

New Planetarium Building

... sits next to 19th century Fryer-Merritt house used for administrative offices and rental facilities for small functions.

(picture by MLN)

  
Green's Corner

first "Strip Mall in Georgia"

(pictures by Tommy Pattison)


This section of town was called "GREEN'S CORNER" for many years even before this complex was built. Originally, there was a single story, neighborhood grocery / market  and ice cream parlor on the corner which William Walter Green, Sr. owned and operated.  Groceries were delivered by bicycles and he also had one of the few Model T Ford delivery trucks in Albany.  The GREENS lived in the adjoining home @ 211 N. Monroe Street for many years which was only 1 block from Flint Street Grade School and 3 blocks from the City Square.

The current owner of the building operates the barber shop and is responsible for having bought and renovated the property.  He is very proud of having preserved the building these many years and his family occupies 1 or 2 of the upstairs apartments, and they are spotless!   The entire corner was a showplace when first built with 4 huge oak trees out front, trimmed in white limestone paint in 4 -  6 ft x 6 ft grassy squares.   The apartments with the front and back porches and built-ins with cross ventilation were the very "latest" - and still ain't bad !  There were no other "stucco" buildings in Georgia at the time and this was listed as the 1st "Strip Mall in GA"  -  4  Connected Stores with 4 Apartments Overhead.

~ Chester Green, AHS Class of 1932-33

 

Flint Street School Remodeled

I ran across this old photo of Flint Street School probably taken in about 1980 -1990,  I attended Flint Street  from 1922 - 1928 (7 grades) and it never looked this good.  I think they made a " book depository" out of it and certainly cleaned it up  quite a bit.  I believe Wilda Slappey ('33) was a student here as well and way back in the 1800s my Mother went to the old "Academy" on this same corner. Teachers I recall were Miss Minnie Pate, Mrs. Roland Brooks, Mrs. Mayfield and Mrs. Osborne

~ Chester Green, AHS Class of 1932-33

 

 

also ... (photos by Buster Wasden)

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Albany Theatre

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State Theatre

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Liberty Theatre

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Hubble's

Hubble's Sign

Royal Ice Cream Parlor

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Continental ("C") Room

Jimmie's Hotdogs

Rosenberg's

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Third Avenue

Pine Avenue

Hillsman Park

Arctic Bear Property

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 City Auditorium

 

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