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Community breathes life into restored pavilion

Year after fixes, historic structure sees resurgence

POSTED: June 30, 2014 12:27 a.m.

The Chattahoochee Park pavilion has a colorful history, but its present-day operations have been lively as well.

More than a year after restoring the 100-year-old structure off Lake Lanier, the American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7 has been busy leasing it out for a variety of functions, from weddings to reunions. The Phoenix Rising Veterans Drum Circle meets there every other Wednesday.

“Since we got that (renovation) done and we decided to rent the (post) building, I’m renting it about every Saturday,” said Dave Dellinger, senior vice commander for the post.

The pavilion, which sits off Lake Lanier at the end of Riverside Drive, was part of an amusement park, Chattahoochee Park, built about 1900 on the banks of what was then Lake Warner. An electric streetcar line was built from downtown Gainesville to the area.

Georgia Power bought the park in 1923 and operated it as an employee retreat until 1955. When Lake Lanier was completed in 1958, most of the buildings of Chattahoochee Park were covered by water, leaving behind just the pavilion.

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, an Atlanta-based nonprofit, included the aging pavilion in its 2012 list of the state’s top 10 “Places in Peril.”

“The pavilion has a large amount of rotting timbers that are in need of repair and replacing,” stated the Georgia Trust website in its report on the property.

Gainesville City Council later voted to spend $25,000 for building materials to restore the pavilion, with the work done by Georgia Department of Corrections crews.

In return, the post agreed to allow the city to use the building to promote tourism and to conduct public safety training exercises for a 10-year period.

A dedication ceremony is set for Aug. 9 at the pavilion. The American Legion is inviting Gov. Nathan Deal, a post member, as well as Georgia Power, HCCI and city officials. A brass plaque is being made describing the dedication and giving a brief history, Dellinger said.

The building rents for $200, plus $75 for cleanup, for up to 50 people. The charge goes up $50 per 50 additional people.

“There’s nothing in town that’s anywhere near that cheap,” Dellinger said. “But it’s something we want to do for the public, to have something available for them at a minimum cost that just covers our expenses.”

Taylor Kizziah, involved in Lakeview Academy’s 10-year reunion activities at the pavilion on Saturday, grew up very familiar with the American Legion.

“My grandparents live right across the cove on the island ... so I’ve seen events there my whole life, Fourth of July and all that,” she said.

The pavilion turned out to be “the perfect location.”

“They allow you to bring in your own food and beverage, there are pretty waterfront views and places where we can play games,” she said. “And there’s power and water hookups and a shaded area.”

The American Legion also has worked to spruce up the main post building, using a Home Depot grant and volunteer labor.

In September 2012, crews underwent a one-day blitz of renovations, including putting down new carpeting, laying new drainage lines, installing new landscaping and restoring a monument bearing a faded plaque with the names of World War I veterans.

Dellinger said he would like to get another Home Depot grant for landscaping around the pavilion.

Another area of concern is the road leading to the wooden structure.

“It has really eroded,” Dellinger said. “We’re working hard getting somebody to pave it for us, but we also try to keep a good fund to help veterans.

“We’re always getting a call from somebody to help pay their car repair bill, electric or water bill, and rent.”

The American Legion is always to happy to accept donated labor.

“If somebody would come out their with equipment, we’ll pay for the supplies,” Dellinger said.


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