Historic Palmetto train depot opens


It took a while but the effort was worth the wait. What began with a resolution by the Palmetto City Council in 2005 came to fruition Oct. 20 with the grand opening of the historic train depot in downtown Palmetto. Built nearly a century ago, the renovated depot has been turned into a downtown showplace that features a local history museum and a large banquet hall.

Back a few years ago when the idea was formed, a 2005 resolution by the City Council called for rehabilitating the historic 1914 train depot to resemble its original appearance and use the facility as a community center and railroad-oriented museum.

The idea behind the project included enhancing the visual aesthetics of the depot and the immediate area, stimulating economic development through increased tourism, promoting historic preservation and enhancing the recently completed Transportation Enhancement-funded Streetscape project. The city was subsequently awarded a $1 million federal Transportation Enhancement Grant to make the project a reality.

The restoration project included replacing the roof along with restoring the building’s interior, upgrading the restrooms, restoring brick and trim, repairing the freight platform and installing an awning.

With the restoration now complete, the depot features a meeting room, local history museum and a large banquet hall. The banquet hall is located in the old warehouse portion of the depot and still has the original floors and brick walls, as well as the wooden sliding doors.

The 1914 depot served both passengers and freight. Beginning in 1966, the depot served as city hall and housed the public works department as well as the fire and police departments. The police department was relocated in 2001 and was the last of the city offices housed at the facility.

When originally constructed, the depot consisted of two buildings with a common roof line. The depot was later modified by enclosing the area between the two buildings and constructing a 375 square-foot area on the north side of the building for use as the city jail.