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Cumming Visitor Center Nears Completion

Circa 1930s Sinclair gas station has been completely refurbished and will soon be welcoming guests as the city of Cumming's new visitor center.

You wouldn't know it by looking at it today, but the newly refurbished Sinclair filling station next to Dairy Queen on Atlanta Road in the heart of Cumming has seen a lot of history.

No one knows when the old station was built for sure. City officials, many of whom were mere school boys at the time, say some time in the 1930s. Nostalgia and fond childhood memories as much as anything else may have been the reason they decided to clean it up, give it a fresh coat of paint, replace the old gas pumps and turn it into a functioning visitor center.

If the old walls could talk, they would tell a story of the Great Depression and how hard it was for those who struggled through it. They would tell you about the folks who gathered for an occasional game of checkers, to argue politics or complain about how the price of everything had shot up.

For example, at the start of the 1930s, gasoline had skyrocketed to 10 cents a gallon. If you wanted one, and could afford it, a new car could set you back as much as $700 and a new house would cost on average $7,145.

As the Depression drew closer and hard times hit, prices declined. The average price of a new home was about $3,800. But it hardly mattered. Very few had a job.

The City of Cumming purchased the property where the old station sits for $730,000 and had it restored for a little more than $100,000.

Mayor Ford Gravitt and City Administrator Gerald Blackburn say it was worth it to save the old building from demolition and it certainly has improved the appearance of the site. Both men say city residents have been excited to see the project undertaken.

The old bay area where mechanics would service cars that, some say, hauled a certain type of liquid refreshment from the moonshine capital in Dawsonville to Atlanta and even further west.

That bay area has been turned into a conference room. The lobby area will house the visitor center where volunteers will hand out literature and answer questions about the city.

City Manager Gerald Blackburn said the center should be open in a couple of weeks. "We're excited about it. "I think everyone is looking forward to it."

leslie Eversole August 21, 2011 at 11:15 AM
Thank you for this story. I have watched the renovation of the Sinclair station for months. I have asked around trying to figure out who did the reno and what it was going to be used for. The station is the cutest thing!
SOGTP August 21, 2011 at 01:42 PM
There is a similar station as you enter Chatsworth on RT 411. I mistakenly stopped to pump gas and gave the owners of the welcome center quite the giggle.
Bill August 22, 2011 at 08:49 AM
Thanks for reading CummingPatch, Leslie. City officials are to be commended for this welcome addition to downtown Cumming and for preserving a part of the city's heritage.
Bill August 22, 2011 at 08:50 AM
I'll bet you won't be the only one to make that mistake, Bill.
need2rock October 10, 2011 at 07:17 PM
The new Cumming Visitor's Center will sure be a busy place giving directions to all of Cumming's main attractions: like the courthouse for tourists looking to pay speeding tickets; or the Tax Assessors Office for tourists looking to renew their tags; or the jail for tourists visiting loved ones.
SOGTP October 11, 2011 at 10:08 AM
@need. That is funny. Really it is.
need2rock October 11, 2011 at 01:06 PM
@Bill E. It's just sad. @Bill J. Let's have some fun and do a little investigative reporting. I, the reader, am now curious to know what the ownership history of that piece of property looks like. IE: Who stood to make a lot of money to build a Visitor's (Ha!) Center that no one will visit; at a time when there are plans in the works to tear down that whole block to build a new Courthouse?
webdoctr July 23, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Hey Bill, This project was completed in 2011, almost one year ago. Now it sits empty with no activity. Can you find out what the plans are for this now that our elected officials spent over $830k on this?
Jonna May 13, 2013 at 04:40 AM
Thank you for the article. We passed thru on our way to Rome and stopped to take photos. Wonderful piece of history preserved and now we know a little more about it. Jonna from Oregon

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