Banquet hall, museum part of revamped Palmetto train depot
By JOHN A. WINTERS
The city of Palmetto cut the red ribbon Saturday on a $1.2 million restoration of its old train depot.
Originally built in 1917, the depot has seen a lot of occupants. For years, it served the railroads, with a freight depot at one end and the passenger side at the other. It’s located on U.S. Highway 29, running through the old center of town.
Bill Shell, longtime city manager, remembered they rented the depot from CSX for $100. He also remembered he learned to roller skate down at one end of the building as a boy.
As the city government moved to other locations, the depot fell into disrepair. Around the year 2000, Shell said he got the railroad to sell the building and the surrounding land to the city for $14,000.
The roof was leaking, and on top of that was covered in asbestos. But thanks to a Georgia Department of Transportation grant, work began on restoring the old building.
The total grant was $1.2 million, and was an 80/20 split with the city kicking in the lower percent. After about 18 months of work, the depot was restored.
At one end is a conference room, while the other end is a banquet facility with the original floors.
And between the two is a new museum, highlighting the history of Palmetto. The walls are covered with photos from the city’s past, including one of the city’s seven-foot undertaker standing outside a building across the street from the depot.
There are a couple of old bicycles, one the kind with the huge front wheel and the small rear wheel. Those used to be ridden in parades by a previous mayor’s father.
Also on display is the desk of Homer Shell, former city manager and Bill Shell’s dad. Homer’s old manual typewriter is there as well. And there’s also an old police book, listing arrests and fines.
“I was reading through it and saw one that said “just plain drunk” for the charge,” Shell remembered.
Cutting the ribbon before a good sized crowd were Mayor J. Clark Boddie, council members Gregory Rush, Patty Willey and Laura Mullis, and Coweta County Commissioner Bob Blackburn.