Restoration of Depot changing face of Historic District

Published 5:56 am Saturday, July 30, 2016

Special to The Leader

Only after a few short weeks, Jack Elliott, general contractor for the restoration of the 1910 Southern Pacific Depot on Green Avenue and Eleventh Street, and his crews have checked out original paint colors, made repairs on the eaves, replaced the roof, and painted most of the exterior as close to the original brick color as possible. Estimated completion of the depot only is November 2016.

Elliott has uncovered surprises inside and out. A chain wall was exposed and was deeper than expected supporting the station. Wood for the interior wainscoting was obviously hand-carved because there were no molds or shapers to help carpenters at the time. Diligently, the crew scraped off old paint to come up with original colors, and they found two shades of green, and black on windows and metal elements.

A cargo door that slid open on the north side will be saved, as well as a number of special windows and doors. The only modern feature will be a large commercial glass window for bringing light into the building and allowing visitors to look outside. The original interior brick walls will be left exposed which brings a warmth and richness as well as a sense of history inside. Beadboard is being installed on the ceiling.

Plans are underway on the design of the exhibits for the museum. Volunteer co-chairmen George Bohn and Drew Whatley, who works for the Stark House museum, have formed a committee for the Friends of the Orange Depot, and are encouraging others who appreciate the importance of Orange history to join them. The museum will feature railroad memorabilia, model railroads, and exhibits about the industries that propelled Orange in the last century, namely timber, shipbuilding, and petrochemicals.

The Victorian-styled depot will be designed to attract visitors to the area for many years to come. It will be transformed into a multi-use facility, providing a conference room, gift shop, special events space as well as the museum.

This summer some members of the board of Friends of the Orange Depot are seeking financial support from corporations who are still thriving today in the Orange area. They will impress on them the importance of supporting the depot, as it will be a source of pride for residents, bring many visitors to Orange, and as a result more economic activity in the downtown area. It is a perfect time to donate to the cause because the Friends of the Orange Depot received a $50,000 matching grant from the Meadows Foundation in May. Financial goal for 2016 is $150,000 to complete the depot restoration only. Further fundraising will be necessary to complete the museum and exterior site.

The annual fundraising gala, this year called “Denim and Diamonds,” will be held on Saturday, November 19, at the VFW Hall on Hwy 87. Co-chairs Rose Simar and Diana Hill are seeking sponsors to the always sold-out event. Information on purchasing engraved bricks or making donations on-line can be found on the website