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Flagler Train Depot to Become New Museum

A small historic train depot that has sat empty for years has been refurbished and finishing touches are being made to turn the former Henry Flagler train depot into a museum at Sawfish Bay Park in Jupiter.

The Loxahatchee Guild raised about $155,000 for the restoration adding vintage luggage racks, a wheelchair, orange crates – the stop was a major artery for transporting citrus fruit to northern climes – and lanterns from the period are being installed at the century-old structure.

The depot was formerly a stop on Flagler’s railroad that stretched from Jacksonville to Key West. Southern heartwood pinewood from North Florida, diamond-shaped shingles and hardware similar to what was used a century ago are all part of the restoration work that has been done at the former Henry Flagler Railroad depot.

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The restoration work has included gutting the depot’s interior, installing a new roof to match the detail of the original, painting the outside a cheery yellow, repairing fire damage, adding a new sign and new deck and other repairs on the structure that was built in 1915.

“There was lots of fire damage. You can see where the wood was replaced,” said retired Lantana architect Don Edge in a statement, who is one of the many individuals and companies that donated time and material for the reconstruction of the one-room structure.

Back when it was a depot for passengers and freight, the single-story structure was on the east side of Alternate A1A just north of Indiantown Road, near Bell’s Mobile Home Park, according to Jupiter town records.

“It’s been a pleasure working on this. It’s good, solid, old post and beam construction. It’s part of Jupiter’s history,” said Stephen Agnelli, president of A&A Development, one of the companies that aided in the restoration.

The structure has some unusual history – Betty Bush, publisher of the now-defunct “Beacon News,” purchased the two-level building in 1966. She moved the depot to a lot on the west side of Seabrook Road, just north of Tequesta Drive and turned the building into her home, changing the front and back loading docks into porches, she also installed windows, doors, a fireplace, two bathrooms and a kitchen. She lived there for many decades.

In 2011, the town of Tequesta paid Bush $225,000 for the 2-acre parcel. Tequesta officials planned to demolish the now sagging building and turn the property into a park. But the Loxahatchee Guild and Jupiter officials took a new view of the building and saw history and an opportunity instead, so they expressed interest in preserving the building and the town of Tequesta gave the structure to the town of Jupiter.

In 2012, Jupiter paid close to $111,000 to load the depot onto a truck and move it from Seabrook Road to Sawfish Bay Park. The 22-by-53 foot historic train depot is now situated at Sawfish Bay Park in Jupiter with very close proximity to its original location and was famous for a stopping point throughout the early days of Flagler’s railroad. The Henry Flagler train depot museum will now be available to be rented by civic groups, a move that was endorsed by the Town Council. While the depot was used to load and unload passengers and freight, the single-story structure is inspiring and keeping history of this site is important to the local community as so much new construction has been occurring in and around Palm Beach County. Rentals for weddings and other events, like at the Jupiter Civic Center and at Carlin Park, will not be allowed. The town-owned depot will be available for rent this coming Spring for non-profit and other civic groups.

Flagler Train Depot to Become New Museum. A small historic train depot has been refurbished to become museum at Sawfish Bay Park in Jupiter

Sandra-Schulman Sandra Schulman is an arts writer, music and film producer. Born in Miami, her work has appeared in Billboard, Variety, Rolling Stone, Ocean Drive, Country Music Magazine, The New York Daily News, News From Indian Country, and Entertainment Weekly. She was an entertainment columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for 8 years. She has authored three books on pop culture. She currently lives in West Palm Beach with her blue eyed whippet. Sandra Schulman’s column appears weekly. Contact her at sandraslink@gmail.com.

 

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