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(rshsdepot) Dothan, AL

- --- In alrails_@_yahoogroups.com, "bsmith3608" <bry3sm@...> wrote:

The former ACL passenger depot in Dothan appears to finally be headed 
toward completion of the renovation started years ago.  Here are a 
few shots I have taken of the depot:


And here is a recent article which appeared in the Dothan Eagle 
giving details of the upcoming work to be done on the depot:


Depot project picking up steam

Peggy Ussery  / aussery_@_...
April 3, 2006
Landmark park Executive Director William Holman talks about plans to 
renovate the Dixie Depot. (Photo by Jay Hare) 

There was a time when the Dixie Depot stood as a gateway to Dothan.

Passengers would board and disembark the trains that passed by the 
building. They'd make their way through the Atlantic Coastline 
Railroad Passenger Depot, better known locally simply by Dixie.

Built around 1907, it hasn't been used as a passenger depot since 
1979. For years there have been plans to bring the depot back to life 
in some form. Red tape and personnel changes slowed the project, but 
it appears as if the Dixie Depot renovations may finally be on track.

"I think we're finally in a position, we've dotted all the i's and 
crossed all the t's, and, more importantly, we've found all the i's 
to dot and the t's to cross," said John Sorrell, manager of the 
Wiregrass Transit Authority, which will call the depot home when 
renovations are complete.

Dothan City commissioners approved an architectural contract with 
Waid Parrish & Associates last week after more than two years of 
negotiating the contract's wording with the Alabama Department of 

"I can really envision this project being completed in a year to a 
year-and-a-half," Dothan Public Works Director Jerry Corbin 
said. "We're going to be anxious to move it along now that we and the 
architects are in control of it. It will have an opportunity to speed 

In 1999, the transit authority received a $1.25-million federal 
transportation grant to purchase new buses and renovate the depot for 
its offices. The City of Dothan pledged the depot and the land it's 
on as a match. The state had to sign off on the architectural 
contract and will review the construction contract when it is awarded.

It will be expensive to revive the 100-year-old depot - at least 
$500,000, according to Corbin. But Sorrell said the depot makes an 
ideal location for the transit authority. It's close to the 
authority's current location at the Houston County administration 
building. It's close to one of the neighborhoods served by the 

"And, it is a historic transportation structure, and we are in the 
transportation business," Sorrell said.

But the depot was once just days away from being lost forever.

In the late 1980s, a curious downtown revitalization supporter called 
the railroad company to inquire about the Dixie Depot, said William 
Holman, executive director of Landmark Park. The railroad it turned 
out had taken demolition bids and was just days from tearing down the 

The rush to save it was on, and the City of Dothan stepped in to 
purchase the building - leasing it to Landmark Park for a possible 
railroad museum. The depot eventually became listed on the National 
Register of Historic Places.

"It turned out there were only a few left between here and 
Montgomery," Holman said of the depot. "There used to be one at every 
stop. Every little cross town had a depot. It was really something 
that was vanishing from the landscape. Landmark felt then and still 
feels now that it's a very important building. It served as a gateway 
to the community."

A new roof was put on, but little else happened to improve the 
building simply because funding was short, Holman said. Landmark Park 
still holds a lease on the building, and Holman said he hopes a 
railroad museum might still be possible. But the transit authority, 
he said, is a good fit.

"We thought it was a perfect idea for (the Wiregrass Transit) 
operation to move into that building because it returns it to a 
transportation use," Holman said.

The City of Dothan will retain ownership of the building and land. 
And most agree that improving the depot will have a positive effect 
on the Dixie community, which has seen a resurgence of private 
investment in the last few years.

"It strikes me from an anecdotal standpoint that anything we do in 
that neighborhood to revitalize, to bring people in, to bring 
stability in, is not a bad thing," Sorrell said. "It's a good thing."
The Railroad Station Historical Society maintains a database of existing
railroad structures at: http://www.rrshs.org


End of RSHSDepot Digest V1 #1332

The Railroad Station Historical Society maintains a database of existing
railroad structures at: http://www.rrshs.org