Depot already popular as special events venue

Published 8:30 am Saturday, July 22, 2017

Special to The Leader

According to Depot Manager Rose Simar, Board Treasurer with the Friends of the Orange Depot, her phone has been ringing steadily with inquiries about event availability at the newly restored depot at 1210 Green Avenue in Orange. As of July 18, she has ten new bookings already for this fall.

The first use was in May, when author Paul Mattingly held his book signing party there. He revealed that the depot was a “magical” place which made the event truly special for him and the 60 participants who attended. The first paid event was a bridal shower in June, and soon after a reception and dinner held by a local Orange bank. Already scheduled for the fall are a wedding rehearsal dinner and a birthday party, and more inquiries are coming in each week.

“With nice linens, flowers and other decorations, the depot becomes a truly attractive and certainly unique place for events,” Simar said. “Especially when a train comes by.”

An added plus is that the organization now owns a number of tables, chairs and linens to offer the renter free of extra charges.

The Friends of the Orange Depot has set the rental charges lower than competing venues, because part of the purpose of renovating the historic venue was to supply the community with a space for meetings and other events, in addition to providing an educational museum featuring Orange history and the industries that propelled its growth through the decades: railroad, timber, shipbuilding and petrochemicals. Rental fees will be used for operating expenses.

Because of the spacious landscaped grounds, the depot is also available for small weddings to be held outdoors. When a child’s birthday party is held there, bounce houses and other outdoor games can be held on the lawn. This fall a scheduled birthday party is also going to have a riding train for the children, the same train that was used at the Open House this past May. A wedding will be held there next April.

Those interested in reserving the depot should call Simar at 409-886-1970, and she will schedule a time to view the space. The entire depot can be rented, or one of the two spaces, one large and one small, with maximum occupancy of 50 in each room. When the bank dinner was held, the smaller room was used for a cocktail hour, then the larger one for the dinner.

Until the museum is completed in 2018, those interested in experiencing what it is like to be in the depot are encouraged to watch for scheduled small fund-raisers to be held by the Friends organization, in order to raise the money for the museum exhibits, approximately $28,000.

George Bohn and Drew Whatley, museum planning committee co-chairs, are currently seeking donated items such as railroad signs or any artifact from this Southern Pacific depot, pictures of ships built in Orange during the war years, photos of personages involved in the industries to be featured, ship replicas, historical photos or manufactured products designed and produced by the petrochemical industries that were founded during the 40s and beyond. Anyone with items to donate or loan can call Bohn at 409-313-1991.

Monetary donations are still encouraged through the website, Credit cards are accepted also for engraved brick orders for installation on the trackside of the depot. The organization will be placing an order this fall for installation by the end of the year.

Facebook followers can log on to Orange Train Depot Museum for the latest developments and announcements about meetings.


The Mattingly book, “From Orange to Singapore,” about Levingston Shipbuilding Co., is available at the Old Orange Café for $20, and proceeds will go to the Friends of the Orange Depot, a charitable organization.