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Historic Preservation has played an important role in preserving Thomasville’s historic assets and the distinctive character that makes our community unique. There are currently five local historic districts, but that number could soon increase with a new historic district designation that is under consideration.

“Protecting our local historic districts is very important,” said Kenny Thompson, City Planner. “Our communities become more vibrant by caring for historic neighborhoods, downtowns, and community spaces.”

Thompson said a community-driven initiative to add a new historic district to Thomasville’s current listing began several years ago. “Residents in the Mallette Heights area, which includes portions of Jefferson, Washington, Love, Young and Hardaway Streets, approached Thomasville Landmarks to explore the possibility of designating their neighborhood as a local historic district,” he said. “Although designating our historic districts is included in our comprehensive plan, Blueprint: Thomasville 2028, it is this type of strong buy-in from our community that helps to move these types of requests forward.”

A local historic district is a district designated by a local ordinance, which falls under the jurisdiction of an appointed citizen-board called a Historic Preservation Commission. “The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) provides us with the means to make sure that growth, development, and change take place in ways that respect the important architectural, historical, and environmental characteristics within a district,” said Thompson. Since the HPC was established in 1987, five local historic districts have been designated, including the Downtown area, Dawson Street, Fletcherville, Tockwotton and Warren Avenue-Love Street.

“Two years ago, a group of property owners in the Mallette Heights area approached Thomasville Landmarks with interest in protecting the integrity of their historic neighborhood through the establishment of a local historic district,” said Mary Lawrence Lang, Executive Director of Thomasville Landmarks, Inc. “At that time, we began to explore the significance of the neighborhood, gather further support from the neighborhood, and commence work on the report necessary for designation.”

A historic district is designated by the Thomasville City Council after recommendation from the HPC. “Before making this request to Council, a formal survey and report must be completed outlining the significance of the district, accompanied by a map with the boundaries of the district, and a listing of each property address included. The Mallette Heights district report was completed by Thomasville Landmarks,” said Thompson. “Once the report has been prepared, the HPC must hold a public hearing and notify all property owners that will be included in the district.” Thompson said that other means of public notice are also required, and the HPC may hold informational work sessions prior to the hearing to answer questions regarding the proposed designation. “Having public input is vital to determining whether or not our community supports a new local historic district designation,” he said.

Thompson said that after the public hearing is held by the HPC, their final recommendation is submitted to the City Council who may adopt, alter or reject the designation as proposed. “The ordinance that establishes the new local historic district also requires two public readings to Council.”

Lang said that Thomasville Landmarks steered the process to officially designate the Mallette Heights Historic District. “After we completed the proposed district report, an informal neighborhood meeting was held in January 2019 to answer any questions or concerns the local residents of the district may have had,” she said. “We then submitted the report to the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for review, which was accepted.” SHPO has issued a letter of support for the recommended district.

The Mallette Heights Local Historic District was presented to HPC during a public hearing on April 30, 2019. “Public comment was overwhelmingly positive, and the HPC unanimously recommended adoption of the district,” said Thompson. “Since this time, City and Landmarks staff have worked to confirm the district boundaries.He added that the city attorney has finalized the legal description of the boundaries and constructed the official ordinance that will ultimately be presented to Council.

“The process includes many steps, and it is not a process that can be completed quickly,” said Thompson.“Our goal is to follow the process that is outlined in our City Ordinances that addresses the manner in which we protect our historic places.

The Mallette Heights Historic District was presented on first reading to City Council on July 15, and approved unanimously. This will be presented for a second and final reading on July 29; if passed, the district will go into effect.


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