Keysville Depot Getting Second Chance

© Southside Messenger

Keysville, VA - A historic train depot is getting a second chance thanks to an $81,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The Friends of the Fort Mitchell and Keysville Depots will use the money to replace the Keysville station's roof, deck, and restore the freight building to its former glory.

In small town America, there's a renaissance re-emerging.

"This is the reason Keysville is here," Averett Jones said, looking at the old depot from the Southside Messenger's parking lot.

Friends of the Fort Mitchell and Keysville Depots say it's about remembering a past many have forgotten.

"We sit and we watch and we watch it deteriorate. And say, 'Someone should do something.' And we don't look at ourselves," Jones added.

He joined Doris Thompson and Harvey Hudson to save the Keysville Depot. It's sat empty, vacant, abandoned for the last 30 years.

"The railroad came through about 1854. And the original station predates the Civil War and was burnt by the Yankees," Harvey Hudson said of the history.

The group says it's one of the last surviving depots that had segregated waiting rooms.

In 1976, it debuted on the big screen in the television movie, Eleanor and Franklin. The movie, which details the late president's personal life and marriage, won nine Emmys and a Golden Globe.

"This is history and we have to keep history in our life so that future generations can learn," Doris Thompson said.

This group of unlikely comrades is already a third of the way towards their goal of raising the $21,000 required under the VDOT grant.

And they're hoping more volunteers will join them.

"The beautiful thing about the volunteers working is it becomes their depot. Not someone else's depot. When you come and you sweat and you bang your fingernails with a hammer, it's yours," Jones added.

The plan is to turn the old depot into a community center where they could hold farmer's markets or community gatherings.

Depot Day is this Saturday beginning at 9 a.m.

For more information, go to Keysville Depot's Website, or the Southside Messenger's. You can also email organizers.