Landrum invites community to historic depot reopening

Published 1:53 am Friday, November 15, 2013

The historic depot in Landrum will reopen to the public with a grand celebration at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16. Mayor Robert Briggs and Spartanburg County Councilman Dale Culbreth will initiate the ribbon-cutting as the depot opens its doors once again.

“It’s a historic building important to the town, and we would like to invite the entire community to celebrate together on Saturday,” said Caitlin Martin, city administrator.

Bill Steward, who owned a security business and worked in railroad security, will wear a conductor’s uniform and share memorabilia and stories during the re-opening festivities, and the brass section of the high school band will play tunes.

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Anita Briggs, who has been in this area since 1995, has deep family roots here. She said that as a little girl, her mother would bring fruit to the station in a basket to sell to people as they got off the train.

“She said people loved the trains, and everybody would run to look at the trains as they went by,” Briggs said.

The renovation marks an honoring of the station’s historical significance and its integral architectural beauty.

The city paid for most of this renovation with a general obligation bond of $300,000. After legal fees, $287,500 of the bond remained for the project, Martin said.

The project’s total cost – $380,000 – exceeded that figure, however, so the city has turned to the city hospitality tax as a resource for funding. The tax generates about $150,000 a year for the City of Landrum.

“The hospitality tax comes from the community and goes back to the community,” said Martin. “The depot qualifies for that fund, because it is both renovation of a historic building and a civic center.”

Many citizens participated in the renovation, including John Walters, architect; Daniel Owens Construction, contractor; and J.B. Trees, landscaping.

They renovated with intentions toward creating a long-lasting, sustainable structure at a reasonable cost, Martin said.

“They kept as much of the original structure as they could,” Martin said. “After they got in there, they realized it was just in time. When the wind blew, the building shook.”

Now, the building has been stabilized, and many important artifacts have been found in the renovation. They will be on display during the grand re-opening celebration.

The Rev. John Landrum and O.P. Earle deeded the land for usage as a depot, and Southern Railway established a route there.

Passenger trains used the depot until 1972, and freight trains used the depot through 2001. The City of Landrum grew as people got off the trains and decided to settle here.

“We really want it to be a community spot,” said Martin. “Bands can play there, and it would be great to have festivals, concerts, and wedding receptions.”