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Old railroad warehouse gets a face-lift for its next job as an entertainment venue
Dan and Chandelle Summer renovated the outside of the Grove Street Station building by painting it blue and adding glass blocks for the windows. - photo by Tom Reed

Back in the 1930s Grove Street Station was used as a railroad warehouse. But today, Dan and Chandelle Summer are getting the space ready for events and entertaining.

The Summers bought the building, located at 610 Grove St. in Gainesville, in 1998 and have since been doing demolition and renovations to get the facility back to its original look.

"Originally it was probably built in the 1930s or '40s," Dan said. "This was a railroad warehouse and there used to be railroad tracks right behind it. They (the city of Gainesville) have torn up the railroad tracks because the city has bought this from CSX, and this is going to be part of the greenway that's going to connect downtown, midtown, train station, park and lake."

Summer said the train would stop at the warehouse and deliver goods for storage.

"When they were ready for people to come pick it up, a truck would back up here onto the loading dock," he said.

The property comprises two buildings that are connected and now painted a fresh coat of blue, adorned with the Summers' signature vintage Coca-Cola sign - a detail the couple has added to other downtown Gainesville properties.

"When we bought it, it was extremely dilapidated and about to fall in," Dan said. "Chandelle and I really thought this was a diamond in the rough and would make a nice project. About seven or eight years ago we did the demolition and removed years and years of dropped ceiling and junk."

Fifteen Dumpsters of garbage later, the Summers began work on the exterior.

"We rebuilt the exterior and got it safe and sound," Dan said. "Then about a year later we did most of the major heating and air, plumbing and electrical work."

A friend of the Summers said she loves the new look of the property.

"It's fun, funky and functional ... it's unique," said Dee Ann Whitenton.

Chandelle said the interior of the building - which has a stage, lounge and built-in bar - is her favorite. The couple most recently used the space for a 50th birthday party for Chandelle.

Chandelle said one cool feature of Grove Street Station is the glass block she and Dan installed themselves.

"We did that initially in 1999; it's mostly for security," she said. "Our little signature thing has been glass block."

Dan added, "We like to bring in natural light from the original openings."

Which is why they renovated the skylight in the center of the barrel-vault ceiling.

"It's called a barrel vault because that is how they built warehouses back then," Dan said. "The roof is pitched so you don't have leak issues, and it allows you to stack products higher up. The skylight was always there but it was closed up and we had to open it up."

Since purchasing the property, the couple has also repainted the original trusses, fixed broken brick and updated the bathrooms.

"We've opened it back up to its original look when it was built," Dan said. "Which is what we like to do with our projects - put them back to the way they were built, with modern systems so people can get a feel of what this looked like."

The space should be open to the public in the near future after some issues are addressed with the city, Dan and Chandelle said.

"We are sticklers for authenticity and historic accuracy," Dan said. "We like a sense of history being returned."