GREENVILLE — The Illinois-Central Railroad depot has been donated to the Washington County/Greenville Joint Historic Preservation Commission.
The depot is currently owned by the Genesee and Wyoming Inc., which operates short line and regional freight railroads in the United States, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.
Walley Morse, secretary of the Preservation Commission, says the depot will become the headquarters for the commission.
A combination passenger/freight station was built on the site of the current depot in the late 1800s. A new two-story station was built in 1910 by the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad. Passengers going to and from Greenville passed through the doors of the depot from 1910 until 1965.
The two-story depot was enlarged several times and by the end of the 1940s, the station depot extended over a half block.
The present configuration of the depot is actually a renovation of the two-story station that was done in 1945. A fire in 1971 destroyed a portion of the freight station, which was part of the depot.
When the original depot was built, the lower level was the passenger station and the second level housed the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad division offices.
The 1945 renovation saw the second floor removed, the first floor remodeled and the building’s exterior bricked.
In 1950, passengers could get service to New Orleans, Vicksburg and Memphis. By 1965, only passenger service to Memphis was available.
Morse said passengers would have seen the train schedule printed on a black board, approximately 3 x 3 feet, with painted black letters and lines, attached to the station wall.
The last passenger service train known as the ICRR “Delta Express” made its last run March 27, 1965.
Morse said the 100-year-old depot has been a Trailways Bus Station and a pawn shop, and also said, the depot is in remarkably good shape.
“Despite its age, it is in very good shape,” said Morse. “There is a leak in the roof, but the air conditioning and heating is in good shape, too.”
Morse said the commission is looking for funds to fix the roof and will eventually hire a restoration architect to restore the historical authenticity of the depot.
“We’re very serious about resorting the depot and saving our history here in Washington County,” he said. “It’s so wonderful when you go to all of these other towns and they are using their historical buildings as office space or for other things. We’ve already lost too many of our buildings here, but we’re working hard to save what is left.”
The commission is working on a historical marker for the depot site.