Inauguration of the Texas and Pacific Railway Depot Rehabilitation Project
The following was communicated to us by the Cane River National Heritage Area:
NATCHITOCHES, La. – The Town of Natchitoches, Cane River National Heritage Area, Cane River Creole National Historical Park and DSW Construction held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Texas and Pacific Railway Depot Rehabilitation Project on Thursday, January 13, 2022 .
The Texas and Pacific Railway Depot was built in 1927 and closed to passenger rail in the 1960s, encapsulating its separate entrances and waiting rooms. Today, the structure remains one of the last segregated train stations in Louisiana and has a deep connection to the city’s African American community.
“For nearly four decades, the community of Natchitoches has attempted to preserve and rehabilitate the Depot into a museum that depicts the stories of African Americans in Natchitoches,” noted Rebecca Blankenbaker, executive director of the National Heritage Area of CaneRiver. “Today is a celebration of all those people and partner organizations who have shared their energy and passion to bring this project to fruition,” Blankenbaker continued. Early efforts by the Cane River National Heritage Area in 2001, 2007, and 2015 stabilized the structure until future use could be determined.
The grand opening marks the start of the rehabilitation of the depot to house new park offices, a visitor center and a conference hall/community theater for the Cane River Creole National Historical Park. “We are honored to be able to tell the difficult story of slavery to segregation to civil rights with the walls of the Depot, where we can tell all the stories of all the people of Natchitoches,” commented Cane River Superintendent Carrie Mardorf. National Creole. Historical park. “Since the construction of the Depot in 1927, 95 years ago, the building has withstood decades of use, followed by long periods of neglect and limited repairs. We are extremely grateful to be a partner in this project and are excited to be the building’s new stewards and tenants for the next 95 years,” continued Mardorf.
In 2019, the town of Natchitoches, which owns the Texas and Pacific Railway Depot, signed a lease with the National Park Service, Cane River Creole National Historical Park granting the park use of the building as a visitor center and headquarters.
“On behalf of the Town of Natchitoches, we are thrilled to embark on this project with the National Park Service, DSW Construction and Cane River National Heritage Area,” remarked Mayor Ronnie Williams, Jr. He continued his remarks by stating, “Not only will this rehabilitation project serve to spark more community revitalization efforts in the surrounding area, but also encourage economic development in West Natchitoches.
Other speakers included Claire Prymus of the Ben D. Johnson Educational Center, Edward Ward, Jr. of the Natchitoches Black Heritage Committee, Randy LaCaze of the Town of Natchitoches Community Development Office and David Mains, owner of DSW Construction.
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