Tryon depot on its way to new life

Published 12:52 pm Monday, July 26, 2010

The Tryon Depot will soon be starting a new life, but it will look a lot like a return to a previous life.

The Town of Tryon approved a lease a couple of months ago with Andy Millard of Main Street Financial Group in which Millard agreed to restore the depot at his expense and move his business there in exchange for a $1 per year lease for 20 years.

The town gave others a time period in which they could bid on the project, but Millards bid won. The cost of the renovation is estimated at $250,000.

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The town has discussed wanting to renovate and restore its depot for years, but funding was never available. Town officials have said the partnership is a win/win situation: the depot will be restored and will then be able to contribute to the town’s economic development.

Work began in the past couple of weeks on taking the siding off the 1906 building.

Im excited about it, Millard says. I intend to create a building, a facility that the town can be proud of.

Millard is planning for the building to consist of three offices, a reception area and the freight room that will be used as a public facility where the public can rent space for gatherings and the town can hold events. The freight room will include a catering kitchen. Plans call for the freight room to serve as a depot museum as well, with historical pictures and memorabilia from Tryons historic train days. Millard is asking the publics help in finding old photographs and other items from the depots historic days.

Im excited about the freight room, Millard says. Its going to be really, really nice.

He explains that all the drop down ceilings are being taken out and the freight room ceiling will go all the way to the roof with its original beams.

Mike Karaman is the general contractor, with specialists being used to remove asbestos found in the building.

The project began with lots of surprises, such as asbestos in the siding and one of the rooms. Once the siding was taken off, crews discovered that the entire building was constructed in lumber that was treated in creosote, which was dripping. There were also -inch gaps between the boards. The building had no insulation, so the next phase is placing spray foam insulation in the building.

Millard also discovered that the roof has to be replaced along with the fascia and the soffit underneath.

Pretty much everything that can be replaced needs to be replaced, Millard said last week. The last minor renovation done to the building was in the 1990s.

Millard paid the town to rent a truck to remove some of the demolition materials.

Once complete, the building will also have two handicapped accessible bathrooms. The original depot had two bathrooms and two separate waiting bays, one for whites near the tracks and one for blacks in the rear room that today faces the depot gardens.

Millard says one part of initial construction was exciting when they discovered that they will be able to preserve some of the original terrazzo flooring in the building, which is concrete with flecks of stone in it.

It is a tremendous project, Millard says, but Im hoping to have it complete by the end of this year.