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Final work done on historic pavilion

POSTED: March 27, 2013 11:49 p.m.

With one wedding party already showing interest, the American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7 is eager to see what the future holds for its newly restored Chattahoochee Park Pavilion.

The post’s junior vice commander, Charles DeSaussure, “has been going out to wedding planners and caterers and offering our building, to see if there’s some interest in renting it out,” said Dave Dellinger, post commander.

That work can begin in earnest now that the renovation project has come to an end.

Hall County Correctional Institute inmates, who have worked on the project since its inception several months ago, were laying bricks at the base of the historic structure Wednesday — final touches on the project.

“It seems like it’s been a long time,” said Dellinger, who has made the project a priority during his term as commander.

The pavilion, which sits off Lake Lanier, 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 voted last July to spend $25,000 for building materials to restore the pavilion.

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.

DeSaussure, also a Boy Scouts leader, said that restoration of a nearby barbecue area has been mentioned to area scouts as a possible Eagle Scout project.

“We’ve got two or three who are interested in doing that,” he said.

DeSaussure is pleased with the work done on the pavilion.

“From what they were telling me, if someone leaned on one of the corner posts a little too hard, the whole thing would have gone down,” he said.

But given its long history, he added, “I guess it’s surprising it stood as long as it did.”

Dellinger isn’t quite finished with the improvements. He said he is working toward a Home Depot grant “to see if they can do some landscaping.”

The site “sure can use some shrubs and azaleas or something down there ... to make it look a little better.”

The American Legion post received a $6,800 grant last year for an array of indoor and outdoor improvements to the organization’s headquarters building off Riverside Drive.


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