Longview, Texas—As the rehabilitation of the Longview depot nears its final phases, the project has received an additional boost through a $25,000 grant from the local Hubbard-Watlington Foundation. The funds will be used to restore and finish the open-air patio on the west side of the building, which many years ago was filled in to hold the Amtrak waiting room and an office. With a mission to perpetuate a “legacy of service to justice and the next right need,” the Hubbard-Watlington Foundation has supported numerous projects meant to memorialize military veterans and highlight railroad heritage in the Ark-La-Tex region. Past grants have gone towards the renovation of the Amtrak-served depot in Mineola, Texas and the creation of a plaza and fountain honoring World War II veterans at Texarkana (Texas) Community College.
Inspired by the many members of the armed forces and railroaders who have passed through the station since it opened in 1940, foundation president Griff Hubbard, who has spent more than four decades in the railroad industry, envisioned the paving project as a way to commemorate the dedication of these men and women. There have long been strong ties between the armed forces and the railroads, as skills learned in the military transfer easily to a career on the rails.
Through the end of the year, members of the public may join in the effort by purchasing individual bricks, which can be personalized with three lines of text. Hubbard will dedicate two bricks: one to honor his father, Judge James Robert Hubbard, a World War II U.S. Navy veteran who began his legal career as a Texas & Pacific Railway (T&P) attorney, and the other in memory of Hubbard’s railroad mentor Boyd Pulliam, a World War II U.S. Navy veteran who also worked for the T&P and Amtrak.
Summing up the purpose of the memorial plaza, Hubbard says, “It is my ardent intention that this grant open opportunities to honor both names and works of those unsung [heroes] who gave us the freedoms and infrastructure to recreate mobility success for a new generation.”
Following years of negotiations with the Union Pacific Railroad, the city of Longview purchased the Colonial Revival style depot and obtained a 20 year lease for the land in 2009. The city is currently in the middle of $2.6 million project to transform the depot into a multimodal transportation center that will serve Amtrak, intercity and local buses, shuttles and taxis. Historic features such as dormers have been restored to return the building to its 1940 appearance while also accommodating modern mechanical systems and passenger comforts.
City officials believe that the rehabilitated depot will spark renewed interest in the surrounding area and thereby encourage economic development in south Longview.