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Fayette County Depot Museum

Caroline Greer, Auburn University
The Fayette County Depot Museum is a local history museum in a restored train station in Fayette, Fayette County, and is maintained by the Fayette County Historical Society. The depot is a contributing structure to the Fayette County Courthouse District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1976.
Old Fayette Depot
The original train station was built in 1887 by the Southern Railway on Temple Avenue near other commercial and historic buildings in Fayette. A fire that started in the Peter and Young drugstore downtown on March 24, 1911, devastated the commercial district in Fayette, destroying most of the buildings but spared the depot. The courthouse, the jail, a hotel, a bank, the Fayette Banner office, a Masonic Temple, a number of general merchandise and grocery stores, a millinery store, a jewelry repair store, and eight residences were lost in the fire. The event made headlines in Montgomery and other Alabama newspapers.
The depot was one of the few buildings that survived the devastating fire, but because it was wood frame, it was replaced with the nearly identical current structure made of brick in 1913. The city passed an ordinance soon after the fire that required subsequent construction to use brick, stone, or concrete to reduce the risk from future fires. It is one story with low-hipped roofs and bracketed eaves with segmented arches over the doors and windows. The only difference between the appearance of the original and the current building is the cement loading platform, which replaced the original wooden structure. It is considered one of the finest examples in the state, according to the NRHP documentation.
The railroad donated the depot to the city of Fayette in the 1990s, and the city received a grant to renovate the property. The city then gave the property to the Fayette County Historical Society in 2002, the same year the museum was opened. The Depot Museum houses artifacts related to local history, including a non-functional moonshine still, a Civil War-era drum, a 1936 Chevrolet automobile, items that were used by railroad workers like hand trucks, works from local artists, and artifacts from shuttered businesses and stores in the area. It also has a rare book from the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5406 that recorded with photographs and bibliographic material the military service of men and women from Fayette and its environs who served in World War I and II. It notes that several individuals were killed during the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, including one who was stationed onboard the USS Arizona. The most popular attractions are the model steam engine trains, named Thomas and James, which are set on the Temple Avenue replica of downtown like it was in the 1950s that was finished in 2016. The Fayette County Historical Society started the project and artist Creighton "Peco" Forsman created the replica, which took two years to complete.
The museum is located at 202 S. Temple Avenue. It is open from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays; tours can be arranged for weekdays but must be scheduled beforehand. Admission is free. Nearby are the Fayette Art Museum, the historic Courthouse, and Old City Cemetery.
Published:  August 13, 2019   |   Last updated:  August 13, 2019