“We have a tentative completion date somewhere around mid-November to the first part of December,” City Manager Casey Coleman said. “We have a Department of Corrections crew working there now, but they still have a bit to do.”
Coleman praised the inmate crew for its work, but noted that using prison labor is not like a traditional contractor construction job where you have a “drop dead” completion date.
“They’ve done an excellent job,” he said. “I think everybody will be very pleased with the work.”
The depot is across the street from the new Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum, which is scheduled to open a week from today, and just down the street from the city’s new amphitheater.
Coleman said many inquiries about using the depot for events are already coming in.
“Most are wanting it for something in the spring, and we feel certain we’ll be able to accommodate them by then,” he said.
Jessica Reynolds, executive director of Carrollton Main Street, will be handling bookings for the train depot.
“We have a lot of people interested, but we haven’t started booking events yet,” Reynolds said. “We’re still trying to determine rates and what services we can offer. We probably won’t start booking until after New Year’s.”
Those needing more information about the depot or who are interested in using it should contact Reynolds at 770-832-6901.
Blair Trewhitt, chairman of Friends of the Carrollton Depot, said a lot of furniture and memorabilia have already been donated for use in the building.
“We inherited two railroad collections, one from Henry Duke and one from the estate of Billy Edwards, who passed away two months ago,” Trewhitt said.
Edwards was a communications specialist with Southern Railway, while Duke used to be a station agent for them.
“We hope to incorporate these new items into the display in the old passenger portion,” Trewhitt said.
Carrollton Mayor Wayne Garner said earlier this year that the total renovation cost of the 9,500-square-foot building should be around $1.5 million or less, far below the original estimate of $4 million to $6 million. He said that was due to savings from using inmate labor.
The front passenger area will be heated and air conditioned while the back warehouse area will not. The back area has large doors on both sides which can help keep the area cool except during hot weather.
The new metal roof has 3-4 inches of insulation and the plywood flooring has been laid, with tongue and groove pine on top.
“We can visualize the building being used for such things as a farmer’s market, wedding receptions or civic club meetings,” Garner said. “The front area has a warming kitchen.”
He said the key to getting the work done was the many special skills of the inmate crews, including carpentry, electricity, plumbing and masonry.
Residents tried for nearly two decades to get possession of the old 1800s train depot, known as the Bradley Street Station. Passenger service to the depot stopped in the 1960s, although the building continued to be used for freight into the 1980s.
Garner said the railroad originally wanted $1 million for the depot, but the city worked out a deal in which the city would take over maintenance of the nearby wooden bridge over the railroad tracks, in exchange for the depot.
The Friends committee, with about 240 members, was formed to act in an advisory capacity on the project.
The Friends’ webpage is www.focd.org.