Porter Memorial Gymnasium
2400 Main Street
Porterdale National Register Historic District
City of Porterdale
Type of Services:
Historic Preservation, Rehabilitation, Architecture, Engineering
2015 Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Preservation Award
Porterdale, Georgia, home of the Bibb Manufacturing Company, is home to roughly 1,500 residents and a mill village filled with historic buildings, many with storied pasts.
Built in 1938 as a gift from Oliver and Julia Porter, the owners of the mill, the Porter Memorial Gymnasium is one of the village’s most beloved structures. Designed by one of Georgia’s first female architects, Ellamae Ellis League, the gymnasium is a Greek Revival building that served as the town’s centerpiece during its heyday. Originally built with wood floors and bleachers, the gym could seat as many as 5,000 people, based on some accounts.
In 2005, the gym suffered a devastating fire, damaging much of the interior after the roof collapsed. In 2012, Lominack Kolman Smith was retained to design the rehabilitation of the gym for use as an open-air event space. This progressive plan allowed for the retention of this important community structure within the streetscape and provided much needed event space for the growing village.
Care was taken to gather League’s original plans as well as historic photographs, informing the preservation of extant historic elements whenever possible. Parging was performed along the edges of the walls to preserve them as-is and seal them from further deterioration, steel framing was added to stabilize the structure, and outdoor pavers were laid throughout. Two side rooms flank the rear of the interior where restrooms, a prep room, and an office have been built.