Preservationist: We can fix old depot

 

The century-old Western Pacific railroad depot was damaged again by fire in June. The depot is located on Union and Main Streets in Stockton.

Alex Thompson, best known as the guy who bought the historic Henery Apartments and started a DIY restoration project, called to say the old Western Pacific Depot, scheduled for demolition after two heartbreaking fires, can be saved.

“The cheap part is what burned,” said Thompson, who sized up the cost of a budget remodel, his speciality.

“Sixty-two roof frames: less than $700 for the framing. Not including the tile, I realize,” Thompson said.

I’ve never known entirely what to make of Thompson, but he knows his stuff. And, unlike the Philistines who swung the wrecking ball at some of Stockton’s architectural gens, he values historic buildings.

“That property has  a lot of potential for helping restore downtown Stockton,” Thompson said. “The things that former station could do. Think of the Stockton Transportation Museum. Old rail cars. We could open that up as a number of different possibilities.”

A restored depot could be the gateway for Bay Area tourists, Thompson said. “A place to go if they take the train for the Central Valley.”

As it stands, San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission has voted to demolish the building pending salvage of some of its architectural features. So I doubt the building will escape its fate. Still, I wish there were more Alex Thompsons out there. This town was created by people with his can-do.

 

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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