Trains to replace horses downtown
Historical Society announces new art project
by Bradley Hartsell
On New Year’s Eve, the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society had its gala to ring in the new year and also unveiled its new community art project for 2014.
With a healthy crowd all dapper for the black tie affair held at the Newnan Train Depot, the NCHS announced “Choo-Choos for Children” as the new theme for the art fundraiser. The announcement was appropriately made at the historic train depot on East Broad Street, which was the venue for this year’s New Year’s Eve Palmette Ball — the annual fundraiser for the general operating fund for the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society, as well as for the planned children's interactive museum.
Two years ago, the NCHS had fiberglass horses decorated by local artists that were displayed on the Court Square and various spots around Newnan. “A Horsey Affair,” as it was named, quickly became a staple of downtown Newnan, drawing interest from visiting families and children.
Choo-Choos for Children will similarly feature fiberglass trains that will once again be decorated by local artists. For A Horsey Affair, local artists took part, including familiar names like Cile Smith, Bette Hickman, Millie Gosch, Jack Jones and David Boyd Jr. The NCHS plans to use many of the same artists, but nothing is official.
According to NCHS director Jeff Bishop, the trains will likely replace most, if not all, of the horses remaining on display.
“We will probably replace some of the horses, as they were never meant to be permanent. Ultimately, these projects have to be replaced because they’re not meant to withstand the elements,” said Bishop.
The trains, like the horses, will be a fundraiser for the historical society’s proposed children’s museum, set to be located a couple of buildings behind the McRitchie-Hollis Museum on Clark Street. The train theme plans to be a central figure of the children’s museum, according to Bishop.
“Atlanta and West Point Railroad was very significant. Newnan wanted to be around the railroad, and it became a hub of commerce for many towns,” explained Bishop, who noted that trains followed horses as transportation and makes sense for the fiberglass trains to succeed the horses.
“The railroad is really central to the history of Newnan. We want kids to be aware of that fact, and it’s a fun way to interact with the history,” said Bishop. “What kid doesn’t love getting on a train and ringing that bell?”
The NCHS is looking for sponsors to make the train air pieces a reality. NuLink came forward at the gala to sponsor the first train. Each train will look different and have its own theme, whatever the artist chooses.
Bishop said a sample fiberglass train is on display now at the McRitchie-Hollis Museum for people interested in seeing the design.