The ribbon cutting for the Coleman Talley grand opening on November 7, 2018 was a huge success. Not solely because it was one of the oldest law firms in the area coming home to downtown Valdosta, but also for their investment in and renovation of a well-known historical building. The Southern Salvage building has been the home to many different companies since it was first built, including a Coca Cola Plant and the A.S. Pendleton Company. Coleman Talley’s investment in the building and its complete restoration is one of the largest in downtown Valdosta’s history.
Coming Home to Downtown
Justin Scott, managing partner at Coleman Talley said, “Our firm is proud to have been a part of the Valdosta community for over 80 years.” Scott went on to explain that the firm originally opened its doors on Lee Street. As time passed and they outgrew the location, the offices were divided and attorneys have worked from different locations since 2005. The ultimate goal of the partners was to find a building that could house all of the firm’s attorneys in one convenient, downtown location. With that thought in mind, they began their search for the perfect opportunity.
Finding the Perfect Location
With the purchase of the Southern Salvage buildings at 109 and 111 South Ashley Streets, the firm took the first steps in returning to the downtown area. The buildings were over 100 years old and would require extensive renovations with a price tag of close to $5 million. With BFB Gladwin Architects and JCI General Contractors on board, Coleman Talley broke ground on their future home on April 28, 2017.
Tim Tanner, a partner at Coleman Talley explains, “I do not think the firm realized the historical and familial importance of this building to Valdosta/Lowndes County. I cannot count how many stories I have been told about buying blue jeans, school clothes, and army surplus here. I think we not only saved a building, but in doing so, we also reminded many of childhood memories of a simpler place and time.”
Focusing on the Future by Remembering the Past
With the purchase and renovation of the Southern Salvage building, Coleman Talley brings together its 80 year history with that of one of the oldest buildings in the area. The architects and the develop worked extremely hard to maintain the historical character of the building. Not only are the beautiful wood floors still in tact, the wooden beams and elevator hardware can still be seen throughout the building. Conference rooms have murals, each one representing a period of history and how the building looked at that time.
With the historical beauty of the building having been preserved, it is a testament to the passage of time and the changes that go with it. Coleman Talley is also a testament to those changes. The firm was founded in 1937 and has grown over time to include 35 attorneys. In addition to the 22 attorneys sharing space at Southern Salvage location, Coleman Tally also has 13 attorneys doing business from their Atlanta office. Tying the rich history of the Southern Salvage building with the solid reputation and enthusiasm of those at the Coleman Talley firm has created a foundation that hopefully others will build on in the downtown area.
Promoting Downtown Valdosta
The firm’s decision to return to the downtown area was not taken lightly. As a whole the intention was not simply to relocate but to return to downtown with a purpose. Tim Tanner said, “We view Valdosta as not only the county seat, but as a regional leader, e.g., capital of South Georgia so to speak. We believe it is and will continue to be the economic engine and cultural center of this region. We hope we are fortunate to continue to be part of that success.”
The marriage of two of Valdosta’s oldest establishments has created a foundation for others to build on. With the goal of returning to the historical downtown district complete, those at Coleman Talley hope that their investment in the future of downtown will encourage others to do the same. Along with the Valdosta Main Street organization, Coleman Talley and several other downtown merchants hope that with more people becoming interested in the area, it will continue to grow and many more of the beautiful buildings will be renovated and restored.