Ded­i­ca­tion held for De­pot

Ex­te­rior fin­ished on Por­terdale’s his­toric train de­pot

The Covington News - - Local News - By Jenny Thompson

Sev­eral Por­terdale City Coun­cil mem­bers and town res­i­dents braved the cold wind to at­tend the ded­i­ca­tion and rib­bon cut­ting of the ren­o­vated Por­terdale Train De­pot Thurs­day morn­ing.

Por­terdale Mayor Bobby Hamby said restora­tion work on the ex­te­rior of the build­ing be­gan in 2004 when the Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion awarded a Trans­porta­tion En­hance­ment Grant to the city in the amount of $ 278,000, or roughly 60 per­cent of the to­tal pro­jected cost of ren­o­va­tion.

The Por­terdale De­pot stands on Hem­lock Street across Ga. High­way 81 from the Por­terdale Mill Lofts and was opened in 1898. Rail lines were ex­tended from Cov­ing­ton to Por­terdale and the de­pot was built.

“ The de­pot was vi­tal to the mill and town be­cause of the large amounts of goods be­ing trans­ported to and from the mill,” Hamby said.

Hamby said be­gin­ning in the 1920s and last­ing through both world wars, the mill was the largest twine pro­ducer in the world op­er­at­ing with 75,000 spin­dles.

“ This de­pot con­nected us with cus­tomers in for­eign coun­tries across the globe,” Hamby said.

He said rope for the Ti­tanic prob­a­bly passed through the de­pot on its way to Liver­pool, Eng­land.

Hamby added the de­pot’s ex­is­tence is con­sid­ered to have con­trib­uted to the list­ing of Por­terdale on the Na­tional Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places in 2001.

For­mer chair­man of the Por­terdale His­toric Plan­ning and Preser­va­tion Com­mit- tee Chuck Rose­berry, whose fam­ily has resided in Por­terdale since be­fore the Civil War, said he was im­pressed with the work com­pleted on the build­ing con­sid­er­ing state of dis­re­pair it had fallen into af­ter years of aban­don­ment.

“ This thing here was just hor­ri­ble,” Rose­berry said. “ I didn’t think we’d ever get any­thing done with it, but it takes money to do any­thing.”

Rose­berry said he had even sug­gested throw­ing a tarp over the un­sightly build­ing be­fore the TE grant was awarded to the city for the project.

Nee­dle De­vel­op­ers, which also did the ren­o­va­tion work turn­ing the Por­terdale Mill into lofts and shops, did the con­struc­tion work on the build­ing.

Project Man­ager Tom Du­laney said his crews were used to work­ing in Por­terdale and con­struc­tion went smoothly ex­cept for the wait for ma­te­ri­als that had to be cus­tom or­dered and built to main­tain the his­tor­i­cal in­tegrity of the ar­chi­tec­ture. “ You couldn’t just run out to Home De­pot to get things,” Du­laney said. Du­laney found the front door of the de­pot most in­ter­est­ing be­cause a sol­dier wrote his name and the date on it be­fore go­ing off to serve in World War II.

“ We made a real ef­fort to keep the door as is,” Du­laney said. “ It’s been that way for 60 years.”

The re­stored de­pot now has a cov­ered gath­er­ing area and stage in front, wheel­chair ac­cess to a large cen­ter room and a back room with large bay win­dows.

Hamby said the even­tual goal is to have the de­pot be­come a place where the city as well as civic and private or­ga­ni­za­tions can hold meet­ings, re­cep­tions and events.

“Also, it will be our trail­head for the trail sys­tem which will con­nect us with the New­ton County trail sys­tem,” Hamby said

The Friends of Por­terdale, also rais­ing money to re­store the Por­terdale Gym which burned in 2005, have taken on the re­spon­si­bil­ity of rais­ing money to fin­ish the in­te­rior.

Visit www. friend­sof­por­terdaleinc. org to see pho­tos of the pro­gres­sion of the Por­terdale De­pot ren­o­va­tion or to make a do­na­tion.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

At the event: Por­terdale Mill Lofts de­vel­oper Wal­ter Davis, left, min­gles with for­mer City of Por­terdale Coun­cil­woman Re­becca Rose­berry and her hus­band Chuck Rose­berry fol­low­ing the of­fi­cial rib­bon cut­ting cer­e­mony at the his­toric Por­terdale De­pot Thurs­day morn­ing.

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