The mission of the Friends of the Orange Depot is to restore the historic Orange Depot, a landmark of the Southern Pacific Railroad, located at 1210 Green Avenue in Orange, Texas, and to transform it into a museum and community space for visitors and residents.
Where We Came From
The Orange Depot, a Victorian-style building erected in 1902, was a bustling and indispensable part of life in Orange up until passenger train traffic through the region diminished in the middle of the 20th century. It has not served its original function since the 1960s; for a while, it was leased as an office space, but has now stood vacant and deteriorating for years. When writer and television producer Carrie Joiner Woliver, a former resident of Orange, passed by the decaying building on a visit in 2012, she was very disturbed at seeing such a vital part of Orange history fall into neglect. Woliver had recently authored the book The Train Stopped in Orange: A Captivating Family History Revealed through 1917 Texas Diaries, based on her grandparents’ lives, in which the railroad and depot had played an important role, and she and her husband Ron decided to take action to save the structure.
They formed the non-profit 501(c)(3) Friends of the Orange Depot in November 2013 and donated the funds for the Friends to purchase the Depot and to get fundraising operations off the ground. Having raised enough funding to renovate the building, the organization held a groundbreaking ceremony on 4/23/16 and will finish the renovations by the end of 2016. In the meantime, we are continuing to raise funds to outfit the museum, to make improvements to the grounds, and to raise some operating funds..
Where We’re Going
Restored to its former glory, the Depot will serve as a museum, educational facility and a Welcome Center for Historic Downtown Orange—a multi-purpose gathering place where locals and visitors can come together to learn about the history and culture of the area—as well as a community space usable by other community or public organizations for events and conferences.
The Orange Depot will provide a singular educational experience for children and adults featuring the industries that propelled the growth of Orange, Texas. The Reception Area will exhibit Railroad memorabilia and stories about the role of railroad transportation of passengers from 1910-1979, when passenger traffic ceased.
Two video kiosks will tell the stories of two living employees of the railroad in their own words. Exhibits will give emphasis to the soldiers who traveled through the Depot during both World Wars, when the shipbuilding industry in Orange, Texas was very active in the war effort.
Timber and Petrochemical
In the Museum and Conference Area, there will be exhibits concerning the other three major industries that transformed the Orange economy in the last century: timber, ship building, and petrochemicals. We expect to have some ship replicas, historical photographs, and colorful exhibits telling the petrochemical story.
With the collaboration of the Stark Museum of Art, we will encourage visits by school groups, and volunteer docents will be their guides. Since the contents will be different from any other museum in Orange, it will offer an excellent opportunity for the children to learn about local history.