Partnering with the city of Adairsville, Kennesaw State University’s Public History Program will present a comprehensive history of the town through updated exhibits at the Adairsville historic depot. Located at 101 Public Square, the venue dates back to the 19th century and contains a welcome center and the Adairsville Rail Depot Age of Steam Museum.
Referring to the venue’s collection as a “treasure trove of artifacts,” KSU Associate Professor of History Jennifer Dickey – and other members of her team — provided an update on their work at the Bartow History Museum’s “Interpreting Adairsville” program Wednesday.
“The first time I went to visit the depot, I was impressed with a number of things,” Dickey said. “One, it’s a great space. Two, they have a lot of really cool and interesting artifacts, … there are great stories to be told and the team of volunteers with the Sans Souci [Women’s] Club who work there are amazing. They’re all just terrific folks and very enthusiastic about this. But what I also discovered was it was really hard to figure out what the story was that they were trying to tell, and they admitted that. … Things were just sort of scattered around. There was not a clear narrative that emerged. So what I really wanted to be able to do was figure what their story [was] and make it easy for people to figure out what that story was.
… We did a small exhibit on the Great Locomotive Chase story. That’s just one of many stories. Previously that was the main story that you walked away with if you went into the depot, at least in the freight section of the depot. … I’m sure many of you know how a single narrative can often take over your history, and it can become the only thing [and] people forget everything else that’s going on.”
While a portion of the Great Locomotive Chase exhibit is currently on display, other museum components will be revealed to the public in May. Currently 30 panels are being developed that will focus on various aspects of Adairsville’s history, such as the railroad corridor, industry, agriculture and prominent individuals.
“We want to actually give the welcome center all types of resources so that school students will come to the museum, adult visitors will come to the museum — that it will become a central part of what is happening in Adairsville, even more so than it already is,” Dr. Richard Harker, education and outreach manager of The Museum of History and Holocaust Education at KSU, told the crowd. “… It’s really exciting to think about providing resources for the welcome center, but also telling these stories in different ways.
“You may or may not know that as an exhibition develops, there’s always choices that are made. We always choose certain stories, focus on certain artifacts, certain individuals, but there’s so much more. It’s such a rich history. So we are going to be helping pull out some of those other stories through the programs we develop. And we’re going to be developing docent tours … [and] self-guides so that if you come in and just want to explore by yourself, you can.”
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the depot is open to the public free of charge Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.