Tuesday, August 12, 2014

#66 Marianna's historic L&N Train Station (100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida)

The Vintage Depot now occupies the historic train station.
Marianna's beautiful old train station is #66 on our list of 100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida.

Please click here to see the full list as it is unveiled.

A symbol of the elegance and style that once symbolized travel by train in America, the historic L&N train station in Marianna has been beautifully restored and today is home to the unique Vintage Depot. It is located on South Caledonia street across from Chipola Apartments and just up the hill from its original location by the tracks.

Unique items for sale fill the interior today.
Despite its antebellum prosperity, Marianna had to wait until after the War Between the States (or Civil War) for the railroad to arrive and connect it to points east and west. There had been many promises and speculations over the years. In 1881, however, Col. W.D. Chipley and Frederick R. De Funiak joined with others to found the P&A Railroad, so named because it would connect Pensacola on the west with the Apalachicola River on the east. The line was incorporated by the Florida Legislature on March 4, 1881.

Unique counter in the depot.
Actual construction of the railroad began on June 1, 1881, by which time most of its stock was owned by the L&N. Twenty-two months later, trains were rolling all the way from Pensacola to the Apalachicola River where the line connected with another railroad built west from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, Quincy and Chattahoochee.

Passenger and freight service from Pensacola to Tallahassee began in May 1883. Along the way, the railroad built platforms and passenger stations for the convenience of its customers. It could carry travelers from Marianna to Pensacola in about 5 hours, a trip that just two years earlier had taken days.

Marianna's historic L&N Depot was one of only two major stations built along the line between Pensacola and the Apalachicola River. The other was in Milton, where the West Florida Railroad Museum is located today.

Inside the depot today.
Built in 1881-1882, the historic station was ready for service by the time the railroad reached Marianna. It was originally located just west of where Caledonia Street intersected with the tracks and was attached to a larger warehouse/storage facility. It served passengers for all of the decades that passenger trains stopped in Marianna.

Cars and planes eventually replaced the trains as a means of public transportation in Northwest Florida and the depot lost much of its original grandeur. In 1979 it was targeted by an arsonist and severely damaged, but thankfully not destroyed.

Two years later the late Floye Brewton purchased the gutted shell of the main depot structure and moved it up the hill to a lot adjacent to today's Wells Fargo Bank. He carefully restored the structure and it has since provided office space for a number of businesses and individuals, including U.S. Rep. Pete Peterson (D, Marianna).

Unique displays in the depot.
The historic L&N train station is now home to the Vintage Depot, a boutique operated by Rhonda Dykes.  Open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, it is preserved in its beautifully restored state.  The shop features vintage and vintage inspired (new) home decor and gift items as well as lines of chalk & clay paint and milkpaint for transforming furniture and other items into artistic decor.

Rhonda also teaches painting workshops to help those with an interest in restoring and transforming furniture and other items using the products from the store. She welcomes visitors who would like to see the beautiful old building and learn more about its history.

The Vintage Depot also carries the complete list of my books.

Visit them online at https://www.facebook.com/thevintagedepot.

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