Though the century-old Chattahoochee Park Pavilion might look like it’s in bad shape, its renovations are coming along nicely.
For the last few months, prison crews from the Hall County Correctional Institute have been working to restore and repair the pavilion, located on the American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7’s property off Riverside Drive in Gainesville.
The crews recently completed work on the facility’s bathrooms and have moved on to repairing the aging roof.
After removing the shingles, crews found much of the wood underneath had begun to rot.
“But you can expect that after 100-something years,” Post Commander Dave Dellinger said.
Dellinger said the building looks a bit worse because the rotting wooden beams need to be removed before new beams can be added.
“Everything from here will be an improvement,” Dellinger said.
The historic structure has been in need of repairs for a long time, he said.
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,” states the Georgia Trust website in its report on the property.
Dellinger said vandals also stole metal from the building’s fireplace and “wrecked” the bathrooms.
In July, Gainesville City Council voted to spend $25,000 for building materials to restore the pavilion, which was originally part of an amusement park, Chattahoochee Park, built on the banks of what was then Lake Warner. 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.
Rusty Ligon, Gainesville community development director, said the project should take another month to complete if the weather cooperates.
“The City is looking forward to the project’s completion as this historic resource will be a great asset for the community,” Ligon wrote in an email.
Dellinger said he’s happy the facility is getting some much-needed attention and hopes the facility will be ready in the spring.
“But we don’t care how long it takes as long as it gets done,” Dellinger said.
Chattahoochee Park was once a popular showplace. In 1923 the park was bought by Georgia Power, which operated it as an employee retreat until 1955. The American Legion acquired the property in April 1959.
Little evidence of the site’s glory days are left except for two concrete slabs that once served as tennis and shuffleboard courts. A swimming pool has been swallowed up by Lake Lanier.
Dellinger said the pavilion is being restored as closely to its original design as possible so that it can later be added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Once the pavilion is completed, Dellinger said the post would also like to restore a picnic area that was built around the same time as the pavilion. The post is seeking donations to help repave the road surrounding the pavilion and to add landscaping around the completed building.
The facility will be available to rent for weddings, picnics and events.