A Brownstown woman’s push to convert a long-unused freight depot into something benefiting the community likely will come to an end late this year.
A possible use for the Ewing Depot, however, remains to be in put in place, but there are several possibilities, Darlene Butt said.
“The town has offered it to the chamber of commerce,” Butt said of the depot built by the Southern Indiana Railroad Co. around 1890.
She said having some agency such as the chamber or even a business use the depot at Spring and Depot streets would be the best outcome for the community. She said she also could see the town council or other groups conducting meetings or a museum setting up shop in the building.
Town council President John Nolting said the council has talked about using the building for meetings.
“Maybe one meeting a month possibly if for no other reason than to just get people down there,” Nolting said. “I think it’s going to be an asset to the town.”
Butt has spent the past three years leading the project, which began with the depot’s move away from the railroad. That came after the CSX Railroad decided the depot was a danger to passing trains and needed to be moved at least 40 feet from the tracks.
The railroad offered to give the depot to the town, but someone had to pay to have it moved, and that’s when Butt and Brownstown/Ewing Main Street became involved.
The move cost about $18,000, and additional money was needed to put a foundation in place to support the depot once it was moved a short distance away. Butt owns the 0.4-acre site.
Brownstown/Ewing Main Street collected money for the move and has continued to collect donations and use volunteer labor as much as possible to put a new roof on the depot, install a new floor and heating and air conditioning, drywall and insulation, and paint everything.
Butt said the end of that work is in sight, and once it arrives, she plans to turn control of the depot over to the town.
The town initially had to accept ownership of the building from CSX because the railroad would not give it to an individual such as Butt. The town, however, did not want anything to do with the building unless someone renovated it, she said.
A handicapped ramp recently was added to the building along with a loading dock, she said.
The only work remaining is the installation of the ceiling. The attic will contain insulation, and lighting will be added once the ceiling is in place. Trim also needs to be installed; the restroom needs to be finished; and landscaping needs to be completed.
Butt said the goal is to have that work, which has a price tag of about $10,000, complete by the end of the year if the money to pay the bills can be raised.
“It keeps taking more money than you think,” she said.
She said if the Brownstown Chamber of Commerce decides to relocate from Walnut Street near downtown, the town will not charge rent and there would just be utility costs.
Arann Banks, president of the chamber’s board of directors, said the board has been offered the depot for an office and plans to discuss the idea once the building is closer to being finished.
“It’s definitely something we will consider,” Banks said.
Butt said the depot is far enough along that it will be open for Brownstown/Ewing Main Street’s Round-the-Square Trash-to-Treasures sale Sept. 19. Someone with the organization will be at the depot that day to provide information about it and the renovation.
Blake Hackman’s class at Brownstown Central High School has made a conference table for the depot out of original wood from the depot and is making other items from the wood to help finance the remaining work.
Carl Shake of Brownstown and the late Joe Robertson are responsible for the recent construction of a guard shed that sits north of the depot near Spring Street. The shed serves as a reminder of a shelter used by a watchman who had the job of watching traffic on Spring Street where it crossed the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad tracks.
Shake said Robertson wanted to build the shelter, which has windows on all four sides, before his death as his legacy to the depot project.
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Anyone interested in donating to the Ewing Depot restoration project may send a check to Community Foundation of Jackson County, P.O. Box 1231, Seymour, IN 47274.
Checks should be made out to Community Foundation of Jackson County, designated to the Ewing Depot.