The city of Marietta could soon take ownership of the historic train depot located just west of the city’s Square.
Marietta leaders hope to buy the 120-year-old depot the city leases from the State Properties Commission. The depot is home to the Marietta Welcome Center, operated by the Marietta Visitors Bureau. The city has no plans to relocate the welcome center.
In a letter to Marty Smith, state property officer, Mayor Steve Tumlin said the depot is a “major component of our downtown’s history.” Tumlin said the depot is best known as the boarding station for Andrews Raiders, the 22 men who took part in the Great Locomotive Chase, a Civil War military operation carried out in the spring of 1862. The location of the depot was also part of then-Gov. Wilson Lumpkin’s “vision” of the Western & Atlantic Railroad tracks traversing through Marietta, Tumlin said.
“The railroads used to be the interstate,” Tumlin said. “Progress and prosperity followed where the railroad was. That helped establish us a city.”
City Council members on Tuesday voted to approve the depot purchase for $81,112, the value at which the building was appraised. The State Properties Commission will consider Marietta’s offer at its Dec. 12 meeting.
In a separate purchase, the Downtown Marietta Development Authority is also set to buy the Mill Street parking lot it leases from the Commission next to the depot and Starbucks for the proposed price of$167,713. The authority will vote on the purchase at a meeting 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at City Hall. If approved, the state will consider the sale at its Dec. 12 meeting.
Tumlin said the small parking lot used to serve an old freight depot, which Marietta Museum of History curator Amy Reed said was destroyed in a trail derailment in 1974. The depot is located along the railroad tracks between Mill Street and Whitlock Avenue.
Tumlin said the depot enhances the adjacent Marietta Museum of History and Atherton Square, a small courtyard space with seating and tables along McNeel Alley. City Manager Bill Bruton said the city can either use capital funds or extra revenue from its tourism fund to pay for the purchase.
The original depot opened in 1864, but was burned down during the Civil War, according to Morgan Smith-Williams, a spokeswoman with the Space Management Division.The current depot building opened in 1898 and the city has been leasing the depot from the state since September 1973, Smith-Williams said.
In 1996 Marietta was allowed to make renovations to the depot building, including upgrading the restrooms and making electrical and sewer line repairs.
The depot once housed a restaurant in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but has been home to the Marietta Welcome Center since 1984, said Amanda Sutter, executive director of the city’s Visitors Bureau.
Sutter said the train depot once served as a “place of commerce” for the city.
“It’s a great location right off the square for the welcome center,” she said.
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