New owner of old train depot open to ideas for its future use
The buyer of Grand Junction’s historic train depot doesn’t have any specific plans for the building, but she’s open to ideas.
Valerie Pearson of Texas purchased the more-than-century-old building in October.
“It seemed like a beautiful historical building,” Pearson said by phone recently. “I wanted to see someone do something. I hope it can be restored to its original splendor.”
Pearson, a Realtor, said the depot intrigued her for some time. The building, which was listed at $1.1 million in 2009, fell into foreclosure, but no one placed a minimum bid at the $165,840 price to purchase it from Alpine Bank.
Pearson later purchased it for $188,376 under the corporation name Grand Junction Railroad Inc.
Pearson said she declined a historic preservation grant that would have helped with some funds to refurbish the exterior.
She didn’t want to be locked into using certain materials such as single-pane windows, or specialty materials that may not provide the best way to renovate the structure.
However, she said she wants to restore the building to its historical roots. The building has been gutted of much of its furniture, but it still contains stained-glass windows, some benches and fixtures.
Pearson is tossing around ideas of having the structure used as an entertainment venue or a museum. Also, Amtrak may be interested in again using the depot as a passenger station, returning the building to its original use.
“I know everybody has their opinion in the community,” Pearson said. “It’s a neat project. It’s so early on. It’s going to take some time to figure it out.”
Kathy Jordan, a board member of nonprofit organization Friends of the Depot, said the organization was created about three years ago to bring attention to the building and to help find a buyer.
After opening in 1906, the depot was considered to be one of the best in the West and provided a magnificent entrance to Grand Junction. Its construction consists of “white brick and terra cotta details,” according to the historical group Colorado Preservation Inc. “The Depot featured a glass passenger canopy, large arched stained-glass windows, and an interior with 22-foot ceilings, solid oak trim and plaster pilasters,” its website said.
After the heyday of train travel passed, the depot fell into disrepair, and its last ticket was issued from there in the 1980s.
The depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
“The history of the building is parallel to the growth of Grand Junction,” Jordan said.
Creating partnerships between the downtown area’s hotels, Amtrak and wine industry might be a boon for the depot, Jordan said.
“Last summer, the Colorado Historical Society brought a wine train to Grand Junction,” she said. “People wanted to see what’s left (of historical buildings). There’s a lot of money to be made there.”
Friends of the Depot members have worked to keep the building from falling further into disrepair.
They placed rain spouts on the exterior to save the terra cotta detail, placed boxes over the air-conditioning units to keep pigeons out, treated windows and installed doors to replace plywood that had been installed in the openings. Their next project would have been to remove a planter from the front.
Jordan said she believes the building can be restored as a money-making entity, and the time is ripe to again connect the depot to Grand Junction’s core.