Prior to its construction, the site of the Cranford Building held a wooden stable owned by the Jones and Roberts Company. In 1889, local businessmen B.P. Jones and John Taylor Roberts became partners in a mercantile venture. By 1895, Mr. Jones had left the partnership, and Mr. Roberts entered another partnership with his brother B.H. Roberts and friend Thomas G. Cranford to form a stock business. It was during this time that the Roberts and Cranford Company built the brick masonry building that adjoins the Cranford Building on Hill Avenue today; this building is simply known as the Roberts Building. A wooden “sale stable” was located directly next to the Roberts Building. Around 1900, J. Alex Dasher entered the business as a fourth partner; from then on, the successful carriage and harness business was known as Roberts, Cranford, Dasher Company. With Mr. Dasher’s entrance, the company expanded into wagons and farm implements. The company’s growth spurred further capital expenditures, and when the wooden livery stable next to the Roberts Building burned on July 15, 1901, a new, three-story brick structure was constructed. By 1905, the Cranford Building was completed.
The architect and/or builder of the Cranford is unknown; most likely, the builder was a local craftsman. Interestingly, the first paved street in Valdosta was Hill Avenue in 1903. Southern Paving & Construction Company used vitrified brick and granite curbing along Hill Avenue, which was, and is, a major thoroughfare in Valdosta. It is apparent that around the turn of the twentieth century, Hill Avenue and the surrounding Roberts-Cranford-Dasher block were vital to Valdosta’s economic history.
Around 1911, a wooden front porch with a second-story balcony was built onto the Cranford. By this time, it housed a soda fountain and stationery store, the Western Union telegraph office, and a “theatorium,” or movie theater. The second floor was the meeting space of the Valdosta Elks Lodge, Number 728. Also by this time, a freight elevator was installed in the center section, near the rear of the building. The Sanford Fire Insurance Map of Valdosta in 1922 shows that the wooden porch and balcony was removed. During this era the building contained a restaurant, an auto supplies store, the Western Union Telegraph office, and a cigar factory on the third floor. The building continued to house retail shops and commercial businesses through much of the twentieth century. From 1954 through the 1980s, the building was home to the Sportsman Club, a popular pool hall and eatery. Billiards and card games were common at the Sportsman, but legend has it that illegal gambling also took place in a secret back room of the club, which was located on the northwest corner of the Cranford.
After J. T. Roberts died in 1920, the Cranford building remained in the ownership of his descendants until 1980, when it was sold to Mr. I. H. Tillman, Jr. Three years later, Mr. Tillman gave ownership of the Cranford to his son, I. H. Tillman, III. The property changed hands again in 1995, when I. H. Tillman, III sold it to Dutton M. Miller and Willis L. Miller. West Hill Avenue Properties, LLC purchased the Cranford Building in September 2007.
In 2013, local businessmen and downtown developers Mike Lee, Wes Vallotton and Albert Slone purchased the Cranford building. The men partnered with Vallotton Construction LLC, Modern Design Concepts, and Celine Gladwin of BFB Gladwin Architects to bring one of Valdosta's most treasured historical buildings back into the heart of this great community. Through painstaking preservation and direct guidance from local, state and federal authorities, West Hill Properties LLC has successfully transformed The Cranford into a unique, upscale property that boasts three commercial and eleven residential units. To schedule a private viewing or for leasing information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org