A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Saturday, April 23, to commemorate the reaching of the fundraising goal, which will allow work to begin on the interior and exterior of the future Orange Depot Museum. Pictured, from left to right, are Rose Simar, Mayor Jimmy Sims, Jack Ellington, Rob Clark, Carrie Woliver, Susan Quigley, Diana Hill, Walter Riedle III and former Mayor Brown Claybar.

By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

Months of hard work and dedication have finally come to fruition as a historic structure will soon be returned to its former glory.

The Friends of the Orange Depot have spent countless hours and numerous months attempting to acquire $650,000 in donations to restore historic Orange Train Depot, located in the historic district in downtown Orange at Green Avenue and 11th Street. The group held a special groundbreaking ceremony this past Saturday (April 23, 2016) to commemorate the occasion of reaching its preliminary goal of $450,000 and to signal the next phase of the project.

“These funds will let us begin the work on the interior, exterior and do some of the painting that we need,” said Carrie Woliver, president of the Friends of the Orange Depot. “The museum will not be outfitted yet, until we reach the rest of our fundraising goal, but we could possibly use it as event space until we get the museum going.”

The purpose of the project is to convert the train depot, which was built in 1910, into a museum and educational attraction. The facility will pay tribute to railroad transportation, timber, shipbuilding and the petrochemical industries of the city which have been so vital to its growth and history.

According to the official website, the Orange Depot Museum will include exhibits about the industries of Orange and the significance of each to the area, replicas of ships and boats built in Orange, model trains and other interactive exhibits to educate local school students and guests.

“Traveling by train was the main mode of transportation before automobiles and the development of roadways,” Woliver added. “That’s really how people got from town to town back then.”

Work has already begun on preparing the facility for its renovation and an abatement company will be arriving in the next two weeks to begin removing lead paint and other items from the building.

“Once the abatement company takes care of our lead issues, the contractor can get started,” she said. “Our plan is to restore the windows and doors as best as we possibly can and to leave some of the details of the building as they were designed.”

Architect for the project are Rob Clark with Architectural Alliance, Inc. in Beaumont, whom Woliver stated has previous experience with renovating historical projects, including other train depots.

Jack Elliott of Jackbuilt, which is located in Orange, will serve as the general contractor for the Orange Depot Museum project and is expected to begin the renovation project once abatement has been completed.

Although work is just in its early stages, once the renovation is complete, the museum will also include a gift shop and rooms for meetings and receptions, and docents will be provide valuable insight to the public on the depot.

With one goal reached, Woliver said the next objective is to reach the final fundraising goal of $650,000 in order to complete the project.

“We are having a meeting next month to begin planning the next step,” she said. “We want the community to jump on board. I know some people have been hesitant, but we think once the public starts seeing some progress being made they will get excited about it.

“We still have a long way to go, but we know we can reach our goal,” Woliver added. “It’s coming together and there is a lot of excitement about being involved in this project.”

For more information on the Orange Depot Museum or to find out how you can contribute to the project, visit the official website at www.orangetxdeopt.com.

Members and volunteers of the Friends of the Orange Depot pose with a banner following a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the Orange Depot Museum this past Saturday, April 23. Enough funds have been raised to begin the much anticipated renovation of the historic structure.

Members and volunteers of the Friends of the Orange Depot pose with a banner following a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the Orange Depot Museum this past Saturday, April 23. Enough funds have been raised to begin the much anticipated renovation of the historic structure.