The city of Gainesville is looking to join efforts to restore a historic lakeside pavilion named to Georgia’s 10 “Places in Peril” list.
The Chattahoochee Park Pavilion on Riverside Drive, owned by the American Legion Post 7, was built in 1900 but has come into disrepair.
Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan is trying to shore up city support to help the American Legion fix the pavilion. Using it as a veterans’ memorial site has been listed as one possibility if the structure is fixed.
City Councilwoman Ruth Bruner, who supports city involvement in rescuing the pavilion, said, “It could become a tourist attraction, but it is also part of our history.”
Around 1900, decades before Lake Lanier was completed, the pavilion was built as part of Chattahoochee Park on the banks of what was then called Lake Warner. Chattahoochee Park first served as a public amusement park before it was bought by Georgia Power, which used it as an employee retreat.
When Lake Lanier was completed in 1958, most of the buildings from Chattahoochee Park were covered by water, but the pavilion remained.
In 1959, the American Legion acquired the pavilion, a wood-frame structure with an intricate trussing system.
Now, much of the wood is rotting and in need of repair, according to the Atlanta-based Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. The nonprofit listed the pavilion in its list of deteriorating historic state sites.
“The pavilion is a landmark in Gainesville,” said the mayor. “It’s a beautiful place and I hate to see it fall into total disrepair. And it is in pretty bad shape.”
Unable to cover repair costs, the American Legion leadership has approached the city for help, said Dunagan.
Earlier this year, the city applied for a historic preservation grant to help pay for renovation, but that effort failed.
City officials said there are individuals who have offered to donate design and manual labor to restore the pavilion, if material costs were covered.
Thanks to a discount offered by Home Depot, Dunagan estimates those costs would be $25,000.
At last week’s council meeting, the mayor proposed the city should cover those costs.
That proposal was tabled when city attorney James E. “Bubba” Palmour pointed out that the city couldn’t contribute to a “charitable organization unless it receives some service.”
City Council chose to table the discussion for later. The topic is expected to resurface at Thursday’s work session.
Community Development Director Rusty Ligon and Jessica Tullar, special projects manager for the city of Gainesville, are scheduled to lay out the city’s options for rescuing the pavilion.
Aaron Hale covers government issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: