Next stop for the Depot?

By: Lisa McDivitt Email
By: Lisa McDivitt Email

Grand Junction's first train depot was a simple log building built in the early 1880s. In 1904, a Queen Anne-style wood station was constructed, and by 1905, the city upgraded again to accommodate a growing population.

That third building served as the train depot until 1978, when it was converted into office space.

"It was quite a treat to have a key to this building,” said Alan Parker, a recently retired Amtrak employee. “To open up this old building and actually work here.”

Parker worked with Amtrak for thirty years before he retired this June, and he holds a special place in the historic building's past.

More than 100 years old, the Depot was serving its last day as Grand Junction's train depot, and Parker sold the last ticket.

"The computers had already been moved to the new location, and a lady walks in and says she needed a ticket."

Parker had to write her a ticket by hand, just like the old days.

"I'm kind of proud of that, selling the last ticket in this old building."

The building itself has even more stories to tell.

Built by an architect from Chicago, it's one of only a handful of depots of its style.

"When the depot was constructed, it was one of the nicest in the U.S., and it was one of the largest for a town this size,” says Zebulon Miracle, a curator at the Museum of the West. “So this is a very, very important link to Grand Junction’s history."

And having a depot in the city meant more goods and supplies could come through, which contributed to the growth of the area.

"It really gave Grand Junction a leg up, and made it a regional hub."

The building itself got some expensive features for the time, including men’s and women's waiting rooms, a cathedral–like ceiling, stained glass windows, and marble countertops.

"It's a really neat old building," says George Dunham, the realtor who’s selling the depot through his company, George Dunham Real Estate. He says the future of the building is up in the air.

He's received inquiries from people who want to turn it into everything from a residence, to a train museum, and even a brew pub.

"It's a really neat area and we're looking forward to someone buying it and completing the restoration to their particular needs."

Whoever buys it, they'll get some help from some very concerned citizens.

Paul brown is the president of the board of a local group called the Friends of the Depot. They're working to raise money that will go toward the restoration of the building, no matter what its fate.

"I think it would be really a shame to let it continue to deteriorate at the rate it has,” says Brown. “Anybody who owns it, we're going to work with."

Dunham estimates that, in addition to the $1.1 million price tag, it will likely cost at least another million dollars to bring it up to shape...

But as Alan Parker knows, the history of the place is priceless.

"I’m the last of a long line of ticket sellers."

(Check out Lisa's Blog at the link below to share your thoughts.)


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