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Fill up on history: 1930s gas station in Perry gets new life as museum

It's been years in the making, and now it will finally be open to the public next month.

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — More than 80 years ago, a Perry native built what was then a state-of-the-art gas station.

As you can imagine, we don’t see things like it anymore, but some folks in Houston County couldn’t bear to see it fall by the wayside.

Three years ago, the city’s historical society went to the city of Perry to see if there was any interest in restoring the gas station to the way it was back in the 1930s. A thousand people signed a petition, and then they started sending in checks.

Ellie Loudermilk with the Historical Society says some even came with notes.

"Oh, they had wonderful memories about walking by here after school, stopping by for crackers and a coke,” she recalled.

She says that kind of nostalgia fueled the passion to bring the station back to life.

Henry Matthews got it up and going during the Great Depression. It sat along Dixie Highway, which served as a major roadway connecting people to Florida.

"I found the Dixie Highway sign on eBay after searching for it for about ten years," said Loudermilk.

She put Randy Lanier on the clock and told him to go find more stuff – within reason.

“Do I need to call Ellie? Or sometimes I’d just buy it. [I] found some unusual oil can things,” he said.

There’s also a nod to WWII veterans, including information on Gen. Courtney Hodges, who commanded the first Army. That information and uniforms of every branch of the military are featured because the gas station is connected to a park that honors people who fought for our country.

"The park is named Legacy Park and with 468 veterans buried in the cemetery right behind us," said Loudermilk.

Most folks have visited and just looked through the large windows and then pulled out their camera.

“They take pictures with the Sinclair pump and we're seeing them standing in front of the door. Family groups, graduation pictures… even before it was finished,” she said.

But now it’s done and you can have the inside experience for free. Just call the historical society.

They, along with the help of people living in the area, raised $50,000. Loudermilk says the city also chipped in another $50,000 to bring the station back to life.

A ribbon cutting happens Sept. 7 at 10 a.m. It’s located near Highway 41 at Main and Carroll.

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