Residents asked to share Depot memories
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 2:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 2:41 p.m.
People from the community, especially those from the Porters, Springhill and Sugarhill neighborhoods, are encouraged to attend Depot Day to share their memories, photos and stories about the Old Gainesville Depot building that is being restored as part of the transformation of the former industrial site off South Main Street and Southeast Depot Avenue.
What: A day for people to share memories about the Old Gainesville Depot building.
When: 9 a.m. - noon Saturday.
Where: 201 SE Depot Avenue.
Hosted by the city of Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency, Depot Day will be held from 9 a.m.-noon at the Gainesville Depot building at 201 SE Depot Ave. Lindsay Rizzo, a project coordinator with the CRA, said the event is being held to give community members an opportunity to share their experiences and stories about the Old Gainesville Depot, and nearby neighborhoods and businesses that developed because of the commerce associated with the building, which was built in 1860 and added to in 1910. It was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on November 22, 1996.
Once restored, the 10,200-square-foot former home of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad Depot and the Baird Hardware warehouse will be a multipurpose building with a museum, visitors center, full-service restaurant, cafe and open-air platform.
"It is important to the CRA to get the community's input, mostly so that we can make sure we represented everybody from the community and represent the history of the Depot as it actually occurred," Rizzo said. "We are also looking for people who may have photos of the Depot and the homes surrounding it, or any kind of memorabilia, such as tickets they might have had on the train."
Rizzo said everything the CRA receives from the community will be part of the interpretive space in the museum at the Depot. She also said the CRA will be accepting donations of documents, memorabilia and photos for the museum, as well as scanning those things people are not will to part with, but would like to be a part of the museum.
Vivian Filer, a longtime community activist and chair of the Board of Directors of the Cotton Club Museum and Cultural Center, said she thinks it is very important for people with ties to the Porters, Springhill and Sugarhill neighborhoods to share their knowledge about anything or anybody involved with the Old Gainesville Depot building. The CCMCC is working to save a local landmark and revitalize a neighborhood through the preservation of the old Cotton Club building and the five other structures on the site just blocks away to the east from the Depot building.
"This may be our only chance to tell this story," Filer said. "We don't have our stories documented, and the generations following us won't know the experiences because there won't be anybody around to tell our story."
Filer said the stories she is referring to include ones about how people living near the train tracks wouldn't hang clothes on clotheslines when they knew the train was coming because the "soot from the engine would dirty the white clothes," and how people used to plan their day by knowing when certain trains came to town.
"There are stories that have to be out there from people who lived in the neighborhoods surrounding the Depot building, and I hope people come and share those stories at the event Saturday," Filer said.
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