Radium Springs is being reborn - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Radium Springs is being reborn

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By Jay Polk - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Drivers who make their way down Radium Springs Road pass by it every day. Newcomers see a construction site but Shirley Cates sees something different. What she sees is a ghost of a glorious past. The old Radium Springs casino.

"It was just a place where everybody went and had a really good time," she said.

Built more than 80 years ago, the casino was a popular place for events like high school dances.

"My junior (and) senior both years were there. The Cotton Ball used to be there," said Cates.

Over the years, the casino survived a fire, but eventually nature dealt a final crippling double blow with the Floods of 1994 and 1998.

The casino was torn down. For native South Georgians such as Shirley, seeing the shell of what was once one of the most glamorous places in the area brings about strong emotions.

"It makes you really sad when you remember all the good times you had there," she said.

But now, the area around the old casino is undergoing a rebirth. This site is on its way to becoming something totally different.

"The county has approved the Radium Gardens," said Chucky Mathis, the Assistant Director of Public Works for Dougherty County.

In the works is a botanical garden. Where there were once lushly decorated rooms, now there will be lush gardens. The plans call for a mix of native and exotic vegetation. And there's a tip of the cap to the history of this place as well.

Mathis said, "where the old casino once sat, is perhaps going to be the main attraction. Taking that area, that foundational area where it sat at and putting in planteries."

The project is expected to be finished early in 2010.  It will cost a little over two million dollars to complete and once it's open will be free to the public.

The hope for city officials is Radium Springs will once again draw visitors from both Albany, New York and Albany, Georgia.

"We hope that this will be a great tourist attraction for Albany. For those come from afar as well as those that live here," said Mathis.

And that this former jewel of South Georgia will sparkle once again.

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