As Porterdale officials try to revitalize the town, they’re leaning on its history and the remnants of a classic mill town that are still a major part of the area.
Officials are developing a walking tour of the town’s most prominent sites, including its multiple textile mills and mill housing, old train depot and historic stagecoach house, among others.
Georgia College student Cameron Kline spent the summer researching the town’s history and developing a list of its most interesting landmarks. Unsurprisingly, the Porterdale Mill caught his attention.
"Personally I found the most interesting part of Porterdale’s history to be how significant the Porterdale Mill was at the peak of its size. It was the largest twine mill in the world at one time," Kline said in an email to The News.
He researched Porterdale’s oldest home, the stagecoach house believed to have been built in the 1820s, the former train depot, the Porterdale Gym, the various mills, the black mill community of Rose Hill, and the town’s historic churches and schools.
The idea to develop a walking tour came from the Historic Preservation Commission, as a way to give a "quick and easy yet insightful look at a historic place," said Travis Byrd, commission adviser and past chair.
"Porterdale represents a near-perfect mid-20th century mill town. Because it is small and lies well outside the boundaries of a larger city like Atlanta, the town and its structures have been well-preserved, and only a few structures have been lost, such as the local school.
This allows visitors to see exactly what it would have looked like 50 years ago, and it provides historians with a case study of mill-town growth," Byrd said.
Kline’s brief histories of locations will provide the backbone for an eventual walking tour brochure. The goal is to share history but also spur a movement to secure "even more of Porterdale’s heritage through active preservation," Byrd said.
City Manager Bob Thomson said the work was excellent and Byrd will try to get more Georgia College interns to continue work on developing the brochure in the future. "I think personally that Porterdale is already on the right track to marketing a walking tour for its tourism efforts through its many projects to repurpose all the old important buildings of the city, such as the Porterdale Mill and the Porterdale Gymnasium,’’ Kline said. "Once people become aware of the rich history of Porterdale, a walking tour will be easy to market," Kline said.
"I hope in the not-too-distant future signage will be placed at all historical points of interest in Porterdale to assist with the walking tour as well."