Nearly two decades after community outcry over the possible destruction of the depot led to the city acquiring the structure from the railroad, extensive restoration and renovation efforts have culminated in the opening of the Depot on Bradley as an event facility and historic site. One of the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail interpretive markers near the depot’s entrance tells the story of the building and its importance to the growth of Carrollton and Carroll County. A display inside the old ticketing area will feature artifacts and interpretive elements focusing on more than a century of railroad history. The exposed brick, metal trusses and floors bear witness to decades of comings and goings.
The warehouse section of the depot has been transformed into a unique event facility, available to rent through Carrollton Main Street for banquets, weddings, receptions, reunions, meetings, proms and all sorts of other functions.
The depot was the first impression many people got of Carrollton as they arrived via rail from parts unknown. It was also the last impression travelers got as they left. So it is appropriate that this building, maybe more so than most others around town, should again be a place of hospitality for visitors and locals. A few events have already been held at the depot, including a West Georgia Vineyard and Winery wine tasting, an open house and bridal expo as well as a wedding and reception. So far, the reviews and comments from attendees of these events have been overwhelmingly positive and bookings for future events there are coming in quickly.
However, the opening of the depot in its current incarnation isn’t just of interest to meeting and event organizers. The depot is a key structure in Carrollton’s downtown historic district that has not been accessible to the general public for decades. Those with an interest in the history of this community and the role the railroad played in that history, as well as anyone with an architectural eye, should find a visit to the depot fascinating.
Having this attraction at the end of Bradley Street, where the new Amp amphitheater and the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum have recently opened, adds great value to downtown Carrollton as a premium destination. Attendees of depot events might check out the quilt museum or an event at the Amp. Patrons of a performance or show at the Cultural Arts Center might venture the two blocks and check out the depot while dropping in to the quilt museum. Those waiting for an event at the Amp might stroll down Bradley to see the depot and read the Textile Heritage Trail signs. All of these people would therefore see more of the area, stay longer in our community and consequentially be more likely to spend more money in local shops and restaurants.
The Depot on Bradley is a practically perfect example of the marriage of history and hospitality that is heritage tourism.
Dorsey is executive director of the Carrollton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the official destination marketing organization for Carrollton/Carroll County.