Renovated depot to open in mid-June

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2008

FRANKLIN—A formal dedication ceremony will soon take place for the Franklin Depot and Visitor Center.

To complete the renovation of the old CSX passenger station in downtown, general contractor W.P. Taylor & Co. crews of Suffolk only have punch list items to complete, according to General Services Superintendent with the Franklin Public Works Department Lin Darden, who is overseeing the project.

According to contract, the company has 30 days from the time of substantial completion to tie up those loose ends, which will be June 15.

Plans for the long-awaited city project were initially considered in 1999 in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd.

The flooding from the hurricane devastated the downtown area of the city, and during that time, the Commonwealth Transportation Board voted to contribute money from each of its districts to fund a transportation enhancement grant for Franklin. The donation totaled around $1 million.

The city decided to use the grant to make some improvements to the downtown area, which included the renovation of the old CSX depot.

The money had to be matched locally by 10 percent.

The Camp Foundation funded $100,000 in addition to the other $100,000 that came from each of the other districts.

While the funding was for a variety of improvements, the money contributed by the Camp Foundation essentially allowed the city to purchase the adjacent Alphin property.

“They had in mind to restore the old freight station next to the passenger station,” past president of the Camp Foundation Sol W. Rawls Jr. said in an earlier interview. “The city bought that property from the Alphins. The property is in between the station and Johnson’s Funeral Home.”

Rawls said that when the history of the buildings was researched, it was discovered that the passenger station was built in 1888 to replace another building and the freight station was built in 1893.

He said, “The old freight building was not attractive, and hard to try to rehabilitate.

“In addition, CSX was still using it at the time.”

The freight station eventually was torn down, and plans were made to use the old passenger station instead.

The new center, an approximately 1,700-square-foot building, is slated to house a welcome center, the Downtown Franklin Association office, and a multi-purpose room with a conference area and a small rotating exhibit.

Downtown Franklin Association Manager Dan Howe said he was excited about the completion of the project.

“All of the furniture has been ordered (through a grant),” he said, “and we are working with people to get some historical exhibits in the multi-purpose room.”