Gordonsville 1841 rail station preserved
Historic train depot to be restored
Move and renovation are part of a planned expansion of museum
BY OLYMPIA MEOLA
MEDIA GENERAL NEWS SERVICE
Friday, January 2, 2004
GORDONSVILLE - The Gordonsville Exchange Hotel and Civil War Museum's latest acquisition will transport visitors to the mid-1800s while placing the museum on track for future expansion.
The town of Gordonsville, formerly a bustling railroad crossroads, and Historic Gordonsville Inc., recently took ownership of the dilapidated 1841 train depot that sits just off the town center on the CSX railroad tracks.
Originally built as a passenger station, the depot served as a freight station and later a signal station when a bigger passenger station was built nearby, according to Tim Burnett, president of Historic Gordonsville Inc. Until about 10 years ago, it served as a signal station for CSX railroad.
"This is good for us and CSX," said Jeff Poole, town manager. "CSX gets rid of an old building and we get a locally significant structure for Gordonsville."
The one-story battered wood building will be moved toward the museum about 125 feet, where the group will begin the laborious process of renovating it into an exhibit venue.
The depot's original ticket booth will be restored to its original state and an exhibit area will showcase the non-Civil War history of Gordonsville, Burnett said.
Historic Gordonsville Inc. would like to eventually build a living-history park.
Encampment tents scattered around the yard would depict those that sheltered soldier operations while the museum was a hospital, and one building would house a blacksmith and carpentry shop to accommodate craftsmen during living-history weekends.
Expanding the scope of the museum's offerings should increase visitation and boost tourism for the town, Burnett said.
The addition of exhibits in the train depot - like one on the town's African-American railroad history - could attract a crowd that had not before considered visiting the museum.
"There's a misconception that if you are interested in the Civil War that you have racist ideas and that certainly is not the case with any of our associates here," Burnett said.
"We focus on the lifestyle. What these people had to endure - the tremendous hardship. That's our focus. We don't get involved in battles and who won what fight."
Historic Gordonsville Inc. members faced a battle of their own persuading town officials to help them buy the train depot, said Milton Terry Estes, a local developer and lifetime member of the organization.
The organization needed the town to apply for the grant money, but some town officials did not immediately sign on to the idea, Estes said.
Town officials received a grant for roughly $125,000 from the Virginia Department of Transportation to buy the building in 1999, but project momentum lagged because of administrative tie-ups. It probably will be moved within the next three months.
Olympia Meola is a staff writer at the Daily Progress in Charlottesville.
This story can be found at: http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet...=1045855934842
Mike "Dusty" Chapman
Member: CWT, CVBT, NTHP, MOC, KBA, Stonewall Jackson House, Mosby Heritage Foundation
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