ALBANY — Nationally-recognized architect and Albany native Edward Vason Jones received a historical marker Tuesday at one of the homes he designed. The Georgia Historical Society, National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, and the Albany-Dougherty Historic Preservation Commission came together to honor Jones’ legacy at the Hugh Shackelford House.
Before the ceremony, guests took part in a showing of the Shackelford House. Speakers at the event included Edward Vason Balling, a representative of the Jones family. Each speaker expressed his or her thoughts on Jones’ legacy.
Jones was a self-taught architect who began his career at the Hentz, Adler & Shutze architectural firm in Atlanta. After the firm closed its doors, he went on to design ship hulls for the Navy during World War II. Jones later crafted the Shackelford House, the Albany-Dougherty Courthouse, the Albany High School building on North Jefferson Street and directed the restoration of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion and interior rooms in the White House, along with other projects.
Carolyn Holman, a friend of Jones’, said that when she and her husband decided to move to Albany, Jones gave them plans to build a home.
In front of the historical sign honoring Jones, Holman said, “I thought it was such a nice honor to bestow on Mr. Jones. Sometimes, when you do special things, not many people care about you. They think you’re different. He was determined that he was going to do really pretty, old-type work. And if he had to teach other people how to do it, he was willing to.
“It was fun to be on the sidelines and watch him do (the) things that he did. He meant a lot to all of us. So did his wife; they were both exceptionally nice people.”
As great as Jones’ works are, he did not do them alone. By the time he was in the planning stages of the Shackelford House, he was already familiar with brothers Odolph and Ben Blaylock’s handiwork. He hired Ben Blaylock to be the project’s general contractor and Odolph to be the foreman and head carpenter. Eventually, Odolph Blaylock’s skills as a self-taught master craftsman led Jones to convince Blaylock to become Jones’ assistant. Odolph Blaylock directed groups of artisans to carve, shape and plaster Jones’ plans into reality.
Three of Odolph Blaylock’s daughters, Wanda Blaylock-Martin, Gloria Blaylock-Daniels and Geralyn Blaylock-Few, attended the marker unveiling Tuesday.
“We’re really honored that they gave recognition to my father and his work, because it was really a historical marker for Mr. Jones,” Blaylock-Martin said. “Once Mr. Jones decided to have his own crew and get excellent people, then it was on.”
Anyone interested in viewing the historic marker can do so at 1801 Dawson Road.