Americana Music and Second Saturday Tours to Tell the Chatsworth’s Story
Chatsworth has the distinction of being Murray County’s youngest, largest, and only “planned” city. The Whitfield-Murray Historical Society invites you to learn the story of Chatsworth’s beginning by visiting its historic properties in downtown Chatsworth on Saturday, August 8 between 11 and 4 as the summer’s “Second Saturday” Americana Music Series continues.
When the Louisville and Nashville Railroad was completed in 1905, a group of businessmen saw an opportunity. They formed the Chatsworth Land Company, bought land, surveyed the property into town lots, and planned a new city. Their land sale was held in December 1906. Within a few months, residents were moving into Chatsworth—at first spelled Chattsworth and probably named for Chatsworth Castle in England.
However, the Chatsworth Depot was already there, in the middle of nowhere, and thus is the oldest building in Chatsworth today. Four other Murray County towns also boasted depots and for many years, all were busy places. By the 1970’s the Chatsworth Depot was not only the last station open, it was the only depot even in existence.
In 1990 restoration began with the moving of the building to a new site on First Avenue. Since then, countless contributors have made the Chatsworth Depot Museum a reality. Today, the building houses a large exhibit of railroad memorabilia from all of Murray County’s railroad towns as well as special displays about Chatsworth’s early years. The exhibit on the talc industry has been completely revamped and additions made to the railroad display.
This month the Kingdom Seekers Quartet will open for Earl Brackin in a FREE indoor concert at 2 p.m. The Quartet is composed of veteran gospel singers from Murray County. Earl Brackin, from the Calhoun area, is a local legend in bluegrass music. He has played locally in sold out shows and has taken his music to Russia as a musical ambassador with the Olympics.
When the depot was relocated, it found a new home adjacent to the Historic Wright Hotel, a site already listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Also called the Chatsworth Hotel at times, the Wright Hotel owed its existence to the railroad. The hotel was near the town well and just across the street from DeSoto Park, the town’s original “green space”.
All the material used in building this half-acre building was locally produced—the lumber came from the Wright family’s farm on Holly Creek in the Prune community located in southern Murray County. The bricks were specially made at the new brick plant operating just down Second Avenue from the Hotel. The business, which was also home to the Wrights and their growing family, opened in 1910.
Good food and continued improvements like bathrooms in the 1920’s, closets, electricity, and steam heat kept the hotel booming until the 1960’s. After the deaths of both Mr. and Mrs. Wright, their children leased the hotel operation to the Quarles and then the Keeter Families. One of the Wright daughters, Kate Raine, retired from her career as a public health nurse to the Native Americans of the southwest and returned to the hotel in 1969. Mrs. Raine once again made the hotel her home, but continued to rent rooms until shortly before her death in 1986. She left the amazing structure and its furnishings to the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society with the stipulation that the building be preserved and maintained as nearly as possible to its original condition.
For more than a quarter of a century now, the Wright Hotel has been a museum of a most unusual type. Two floors show life in an early 20th Century hotel and a third floor houses a museum about the Wrights and their lives in Chatsworth as well as in the southwest. It is also an anchor of the Downtown Chatsworth Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places which includes the Depot and many other commercial buildings from Chatsworth’s earliest days.
Both the Hotel and the Depot are under the care of devoted volunteers from the Historical Society. In addition to the “Second Saturday” openings this summer, the buildings are also available by appointment throughout the year and also for special events like showers, receptions, etc by calling Ralph Ausmus at 706-695-9808. Folks are always welcome to visit these important links to Chatsworth and Murray County’s rich past, but especially during this amazing FREE Second Saturday event.
“Americana Music Series” at the
Chatsworth Depot September 11
The Chatsworth Depot and Wright Hotel Committees of the Whitfield Murray Historical Society announce an ‘Americana Music Series” at the Depot in downtown Chatsworth during their regular Second Saturday openings this year. Designed to get more people into these historic buildings as well as to provide enjoyable quality activities for visitors to the sites, the events promise great entertainment for all ages—and a little history, too! A variety of performers will be featured at the free event which are sponsored by a number of local folks and businesses.
Both the hotel and the depot will be open 11-4 each day with volunteers providing tours and activities at each building. Local and touring musicians scheduled to perform at 2 p.m. each day include: September 11- The Wilsons will be the opening act at 2 p.m. followed by Tom Brown with a singers/songwriters showcase Sponsored by Bojangles, Krystal, & Captain D’s. The hotel will highlight its medical and Indian collections on this day. Refreshments will be available and while the tours will be free, donations for the preservation and maintenance of these historic properties are appreciated. The Depot and the hotel are located in downtown Chatsworth at the corner of Second Avenue and Market Street, one block east of U.S. 411. For more information check the historical society’s website at www.whitfield-murrayhistoricalsociety.org or check out the depot’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ChatsworthDepot.
Open for special occasions and events. Please check Facebook and this web site for opening announcements.
To make arrangements for group tours or rentals please
call 706 695-4416.
Chair: Frank Adams
The Chatsworth Depot, originally on the L & N Railroad, has been moved a block from its original location behind the Wright Hotel.
The Caboose and Depot are located adjacent to the Wright Hotel
In 1904 the Louisville and Nashville railroad system ran from Cincinnati, Ohio to Etowah, Tennessee. In order to complete a direct line to Atlanta, the L&N railroad system began laying tracks from Etowah south. In 1905, tracks were laid through Murray County. The Chatsworth Depot, now located adjacent to the Wright Hotel, was built along the tracks during this period. It contained two waiting rooms, an agent's office, an express and baggage room, and a freight room. The L&N Railroad employed many Murray County residents, and trains would stop daily to transport residents traveling to and from Cartersville and other points. President Franklin D. Roosevelt once spent a night in his private car at the depot on his way to Warm Springs, where he went for therapy for polio.
The restored depot currently houses two museums: one chronicles the growth of the local talc industry; the other documents more than a century of railroad service in Murray County.
The Talc Museum contains a collection of historical information and artifacts relating to the talc industry in Murray County, including maps, documents, photographs, news articles, tools and special equipment.
The Railroad Museum concentrates on passenger and freight service through Murray County. Original items from several Murray County depots are on display along with an extensive display of tools, equipment, documents, and photographs related railroad history.
A caboose is also on display on the grounds of the Depot Museum.