Cutline: Orange native Carrie Woliver has led the drive to save and repurpose Orange’s Southern Pacific Train Depot on Green Avenue. An open house is set for 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 7.

By Dave Rogers

For The Record

The Orange Train Depot Museum will hold an open house from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 7.

Dignitaries will make speeches at 2:30 p.m., docents will give guided tours and tell some of the history of the gateway to the city that dates back to 1902.

The event will include art. Youngsters will provide entertainment in the form of singing and dancing, and they’ll be entertained by a kiddie train ride.

Meanwhile, Carrie Woliver will realize another step toward realizing a dream she stumbled into a decade ago.

“What have I gained from this?” the 1959 Lutcher Stark High graduate said a few days ago.

“It’s just been an incredible fun project to do. It was a time in my life, all of my background and what I’ve been able to put into this. The neat thing was doing something for my hometown and being surrounded by my old friends that I hadn’t been around.”

Woliver left her hometown and made a life in Houston in television production. Then she cleaned out some family heirlooms and discovered some of her grandparents’ diaries describing live on Orange’s Pine Street, two blocks from the train depot, 100 years ago.

Woliver had spent a lot of time at her grandparents Orange home as she grew up several decades later.

The train station was a favorite place for her as a child. Reading her grandparents’ entries that included plenty of riding the train near and far and meeting friends at the station inspired her to put together a book about that time in the life of Orange, as seen through her family’s eyes.

She named the 2012 book “The Train Stopped in Orange,” even included an old photo of the train station on the cover.

The she came back to her hometown for a book signing and saw the building at 1210 Green Avenue.

“My husband and I were shocked at the status of that depot,” she said. “It was such an eyesore.”

One thing led to another

She and Ron purchased the property, then donated it to a group she formed with some old and new friends, Friends of the Orange Depot.

“We decided to have a big meeting,” Woliver recalled. “’Anybody interested in saving the depot should come to the Orange library,’ we said.

“We must have had about 50 people show up, some of them very influential. We signed up 10 board members at that meeting. We saw, as time went on, that everybody wanted to save that building.”

The group raised $500,000 to fix it up and with the help of architect Rob Clark of Beaumont and contractor Jack Elliott of Jack Built, the building has been restored.

While the outside is done, showing its original colors, Woliver said, the final phase will be complete when it is filled with museum exhibits.

They will highlight the industries that powered Orange in the 20th century – transportation, lumber, shipbuilding and petrochemicals.

“We have to raise funds for those exhibits,” Woliver said. “We expect to be able to do that in the next six to eight months, and be able to open as an exhibit in the fall of 2018.”

In the meantime, the depot will be available for meeting and other event rentals. Call 409-886-1970 for more information.