“Isn’t this a marvelous building?” Macon Mayor Robert Reichert asked Thursday afternoon.
His audience couldn’t be expected to disagree. The crowd of about two dozen in Terminal Station at 200 Cherry St. included many of the people who have been involved in renovating the building, mostly over the past two years.
They stood on the marble floor, beneath the vaulted ceiling, and gazed up at gold-painted details now restored in the 1916 train station.
City Councilman Mike Cranford, a member of the committee that oversaw the restoration, said he remembered riding trains at the station as a child.
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“That was in its heyday, and it never looked this good,” he said.
Passenger trains stopped running there nearly 40 years ago, and the building deteriorated. Georgia Power had offices there for a while, and helped stabilize the building, Reichert said. But the big change came with a 2002 federal grant through the Georgia Department of Transportation, he said.
Reichert thanked the major movers who arranged and made use of the grant: outgoing U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Macon; former Macon Mayor Jack Ellis, who was present; members of City Council; city Central Services Director Gene Simonds and staff; architect Sammy Thompson; and construction manager Chris R. Sheridan & Co.
Steve Kish from the Georgia Department of Transportation said Thursday’s ceremony marked the end of “phase one,” using up the $6.7 million grant.
There are no immediate plans or money for further work at Terminal Station.
However, the project’s backers hope for future funding to do more work, and they would like to attract Greyhound Bus Lines to move to the station, he said.
That would connect out-of-town bus service to the city’s transit network: Macon Transit Authority’s office and a major transfer station are already there. The Department of Drivers Services, city Economic & Community Development Department and Macon-Bibb County Office of Workforce Development are also housed in the terminal, but there’s more space available for rent, Reichert said.
Looking into the crowd, he pointed out Gordon Kenna from Georgians for Passenger Rail. The group wants to make Macon-to-Atlanta one of the first links in a new rail system, perhaps running passenger trains from Terminal Station once again, Reichert said.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.