For about $3, 13-year-old Turner would hang around the depot each weekend and answer the phones that used to hang on the side of the building for a taxi service.
Painted green and yellow, the building stood on Main Street in downtown Acworth next to the train tracks, and was a common fixture to the city block until it was moved to its current location in 1970.
The train tracks are still there, but the historic building now sits on Winn Street, tucked away from the city’s downtown strip.
The paint is peeling, and the building is being used for minor storage.
Turner, now 67, wants to bring it back.
Surrounded by plates of fried chicken, corn bread and berry pie, about 20 people met at Daddy’s Country Kitchen in Acworth on Thursday night to discuss their plans to restore the old depot.
The group, which calls itself “Save the Acworth Depot,” formed in July and has been quickly gaining popularity.
A Facebook page has 395 “likes,” and many of the members have already started brainstorming possible fundraising ads.
Group in its infancy
The president, Michael Helenek, recently applied for the group’s 501c3 nonprofit status, and they are waiting for approval.
Many members of the group remember the old depot, and are committed to seeing it revitalized, no matter how long the wait.
It is a new group with big dreams.
A large part of the meeting Thursday was spent discussing Robert’s Rules of Order, and what members were allowed to share with nonmembers about their plans while waiting for nonprofit status.
Possible plans that were discussed are to move the building back to its old home on Main Street, and to turn it into a history center and maybe rent the space out for events.
Big on vision, short on bucks
The old depot was bought by Acworth residents Tom Tucker and his wife, Suzanne Pearce-Tucker about eight years ago, because “we just love the building itself and hate to see somebody destroy it,” he said.
The couple had plans to restore the building, but when the economy faltered, they had to abandon those plans.
Tucker said he was open to selling the building to anyone who wants to restore it.
“It’s so sad to see the historical stuff gone. A lot of us remember how it used to be ‘Historic Acworth,’ but we have no history anymore, other little towns have restored their history,” said Ramona Mays, who now lives in Roswell but grew up in Acworth.
Marietta’s old train depot which, similar to Acworth’s, was used as a railroad passenger depot until the 1950s, was leased in 1978 by the Downtown Marietta Development Authority from the state.
It was a restaurant until 1985, when the city of Marietta transformed the depot into the Marietta Welcome Center and Visitors Bureau.
Since then, more than 1.2 million people have visited the welcome center, and the economic impact on the city has been huge, said Katie Peterson, the center’s executive director.
Tourism, which usually starts in the Welcome Center, generates $215 million annually, Peterson said, and last Saturday, the center had more than 200 visitors.
“It is such a great old building. We want to preserve it and show it off to reuse the building, instead of always building something new,” she added.