Former Railway Depot Continues To Draw Lubbock Residents For More Than 80 Years

Published: Jun. 30, 2008 at 9:10 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 14, 2014 at 10:39 PM CST
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The Buddy Holly Museum is host to 2,500 square feet of gallery space that displays works in conjunction with the Lubbock Fine Arts Center. It's also part of Lubbock's first Friday Night Arts Trail.

However, some 80 years ago, this building was known to Lubbock residents as the Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway Depot. It was a place where cotton was shipped and some started their journey to World War II.

Years before Robert Carr was known as Doctor Carr, he was Navy Officer Carr. His journey to world war two started here, at the Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway Depot. "I was going to Dallas to really join actually the Naval Air Corps. And at that time it took little small trips through these small towns in order to get there," Carr said.

It took Carr nearly an entire day, before he arrived in the Dallas area. "On that train you had to take your own meal I remember. We had a little sack lunch my mother gave me to take with me," he said.

Fort Worth and Denver Railway built Lubbock's newest depot station on 19th and then Avenue G in 1928. Once complete, the rail line provided a direct passenger and freight service to the Fort Worth Dallas area.

"It was important to the Fort Worth and Denver to have this connection to the South Plains to be able to get cotton. During the 1920's the cotton production on the plains had just boomed so they had to have the link. So they could have their route to the coast and also inland," Sally Abbe said.

Abbe authored the nomination to add the depot onto the National Register of Historic Places. "The passenger service was very important to people. They did not have automobiles or they did not want to drive to a distant location because it was so slow," she said.

Forth Worth architect Wyatt Hedrick designed this Spanish Renaissance Revival style red brick depot. In addition, there is a reason why the architecture looks similar to Texas Tech. Just a few years prior to the depot's construction, Hedrick helped design the buildings on Tech campus. "Lots of Tech students got their first glimpse of Lubbock from here," Abbe said.

For those like Carr and others, tickets were picked up or bought from a bay window. "There were waiting rooms in here, at least two sets of waiting rooms, because during that time there were white and colored," Abbe added.

Still to this day, the railroads safe where money and tickets were kept is not far from the bay window. "They would have had one of these in every depot. They had a large amount of cash they would transport on the railroad," Abbe said.

Less than three decades after it was built, as cars replaced train travel, the railroad abandoned the Lubbock depot in 1953. It served as a warehouse for various businesses, then a salvage yard. "Behind us was the main dining room of the depot restaurant. It was actually the original freight loading platform," Abbe said.

In 1976, the depot was given new life and once again became a place to gather; this time over steaks and white tablecloth. "When it was a restaurant, it was a great restaurant. It was probably the premier restaurant for a number of years," Dr. Carr said.

This is one of the menus Carr and many others ordered from until the Depot Restaurant closed in 1997. Following the restaurant's closure, the City of Lubbock bought the building. And once again it was given a new look while preserving its roots and this former train depot that helped make Lubbock the Hub City, again draws visitors, now honoring one of Lubbock's most influential sons. "The Buddy Holly Museum," Carr said.

"It's just not quite as dirty looking or dusty, they've changed it some. But it's still real interesting to go walking through it and know that's where I went to the Navy," Carr added.

The depot was designated Lubbock's first Historical Landmark in 1979. More than a decade later, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Buddy Holly Legacy Lives In Lubbock
He revolutionized rock-and-roll, and today Buddy Holly's legacy is recognized throughout the world and right here in Lubbock. NewsChannel 11's Ben Lawson has more on Holly's influence.