Stone Mountain depot’s new role

Stone Mountain city officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the exterior renovations to the train Depot. Photos by Carla Parker

What was once a Georgia Railroad depot and has served as city hall and city jail will soon be Stone Mountain’s Visitors Center and event space.

Stone Mountain Mayor Patricia Wheeler along with city council members and other city officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 23 to celebrate the completion of exterior renovations on the historic train depot. The city also hosted a talk at the Sue B. Kellogg Library, led by architect David Steele from the firm of Lord Aeck and Sargent for the Stone Mountain Historical Society.

The talk was followed by a tour of the exterior of the buildings.

Wheeler said getting the renovations done was a long time coming.

“To watch the renovations where the holes were in the granite, where birds had nested in it—it is so wonderful to see the finished project and to see it like it originally was, it has been really great,” Wheeler said. “I can’t wait to be able to do the inside, but the outside looks wonderful. We still have to get some plants and things in the front to make it a little prettier, but we are really grateful to have it finished. It was a long, hard process getting it finished.”

Councilman Steve Wells called the renovations “fantastic.”

“This is such a centerpiece for the city. It’s such a central gathering spot and so much history is involved in this depot,” Wells said. “We’re super proud that we were able to get the funding needed to make it beautiful as it deserves to be.”

The $352,150 renovation project began Oct. 13, 2014. The city received a Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation to repair the exterior of the old police station section of the train depot.

The south side of the train depot was built in 1857 after the Georgia Railroad Company completed the line from Madison to Atlanta. The north side was built in 1914 as a passenger office and waiting room. In the early 1960s, the train depot served as city hall and city jail. It remained in use until 2012 when the new municipal building was completed.

The city council voted to have Stone Mountain Downtown Development Authority as lead on the further redevelopment of the building into a visitors center and event space. According to Mechel McKinley, executive director of the DDA, the DDA is looking at plans for the building and will begin work this summer to secure grants and private donations for interior renovations.

“Hopefully it will become a regional visitor center for the state by having a bigger home,” Wheeler said. “We hope to use the old police department part as a gathering place for the community and possibly a senior center.”

Wheeler also said the city hopes to put a museum in the old courtroom section of the depot.

“Stone Mountain Park has given us a lot of memorabilia that relates to the city, not just the park,” she said. “We look forward to putting that in the old courtroom part. That will be a tourism piece, especially for [history] buffs.

“We have talked about putting a platform there for train buffs who like to come out and watch the trains go by,” Wheeler added. “We can give them the exact times when the train is coming through and people can be here to watch the trains.”

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