By Moses Leos III
Roughly a decade after moving back to downtown Kyle, the Kyle Train Depot Museum is chugging toward its grand reopening in February.
Kyle Train Depot Board president Kate Johnson hopes the facility, which will have a soft opening on Jan. 23, can help residents gain insight on the city’s past.
“I think it will be interesting for people to see their beautiful depot restored,” Johnson said. “It will be fun. They’ll get to know the people, they’ll get to know about their history.”
According to Johnson, the depot is undergoing “finishing touches” as it rolls toward its projected opening. She said those touches involve “dressing out the waiting rooms,” beautifying the bathrooms and other small projects. In addition, she said some items, such as cotton bales, are being added to recreate the authenticity of the era the depot was open.
Restoring the depot was a project that was first conceptualized when it moved back to downtown Kyle in 2003.
To date, the Kyle Train Depot has collected more than $1 million to go toward restoring the depot. Johnson said the majority of that came from foundations and individual companies that contributed to the depot.
In 2015, the city of Kyle approved a $343,000 contract with SpawGlass Contractors to complete the third phase of the restoration project.
The third phased involved restoring the interior of the structure to its original state. Kyle added a budget amendment of $9,500 to the third phase for lighting that was representative of the original depot.
“The City of Kyle has been wonderful,” Johnson said. “Everything has been great.”
Readying the facility for its soft opening has been the Hays County Historical Commission (HCHC), which Johnson said took over the Depot Board from the city in 2015.
According to Johnson, who is also the president of the HCHC, the move was done due to the commission having “more experience in the Kyle Depot Board.” Johnson said while many people on the Train Depot board worked hard on the project, none of them had “museum experience.”
“We realized we needed more expertise when it comes to a museum,” Johnson said. She added that the retired volunteers on the HCHC could have “more time than the people on the Depot board.”
Johnson said once the depot is finished and open, the facility could then return to the city of Kyle.
“We’re thrilled that the historical commission members are taking over the part,” Johnson said.
Once the facility is open, visitors will be able to view the train depot in its original state. In addition, the museum will show a documentary that was supported by the HCHC on the beginnings of Kyle. Johnson said the documentary would run continuously.
Johnson lauded the work of the depot board and the work done by many of the volunteers who have helped get the project rolling.
“This has been amazing,” Johnson said. “The receptiveness of the people of Kyle and the time and the money donated to get the project finished.”