Historic Structures

Building Description Missouri Pacific Railway Depot, Wisner Louisiana

The Missouri Pacific Railway Depot located in Wisner, Louisiana possesses the architectural characteristics common to many rural rail stations built during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The rectangular, single story, wood-framed structure dominates a small tract of land once designated as the "Railway Reserve". The one-time present pump house and water tank have been removed. Storage buildings and old rails which fell into disuse have also been removed. The depot stands aligned north-south on the east side of the old rail bed which is now a graveled road. Warehouses, a cotton gin, and an abandoned service station surround the depot grounds. Until the late 1990s, the depot was used as a storage building.

The building design is based on standardized plans used by the Great Northern Railway (currently Burlington Northern) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth Centuries. The plans for the Great Northern Railway depots generally include a waiting area, which corresponds to Rooms l and 2 in this depot. Many times in northern states, the waiting space was separated to segregate men from women, in this case it is likely that the divided waiting area meant to segregate white from black. There is an office, which corresponds to Room No.3 and a storage area which corresponds to Room No. 4. A Company official in 1902 succinctly explained the road's station-design philosophy: 'Depots are constructed to necessary and economical styles. The unnecessary and the extravagant are ignored.' This is most definitely the case for the Missouri Pacific Railway Depot in Wisner, Louisiana.

The exterior of the building is surfaced with extremely utilitarian materials. Cypress siding covers the structure from the ground to a height of approximately 3 feet. Above the cypress, the building is protected with asbestos siding. The overhanging gabled roof is sheathed with brown asphalt shingles and has decorative molding at the corners of the roof. All of the door and window openings have plain wooden trim and the walls have wooden corner boards.

The northern elevation contains one of the main commercial loading doors leading to the interior storage area. The door is offset to the east to allow for the pocket into which it slides. This pocket door is made of wood and possesses the original track and wheel hardware. Above this door is a five lighted transom which aids in illuminating the interior ofthc building. A rectangular louvered vent is centered under the gabled end above the pocket door.

As with the northern elevation, the eastern elevation contains a commercial loading door which leads to the interior storage area. This door is identical to the one in the northern elevation including the placement of the transom. The southern half of the eastern elevation contains three two over two double hung windows. There is a singly placed window in the northern portion of this half of the wall. The southern portion contains a paired set.

The southern elevation contains a wooden six-paneled door to the east with a two lighted transom above. All of the original hardware is present. The western portion of this wall contains a twoover- two double hung window. As with the northern elevation, there is a rectangular louvered vent beneath the gabled end.

The western elevation is divided into three parts. The southern portion contains a two-over-two window in the south and a five-paneled wooden door with a two lighted transom above, to the north. The central section of the western elevation is a bay which contains four windows. The south and north facing portions of the bay contain very narrow rectangular windows, the west facing segment of the bay contains two-over-two double hung windows with the remains of metal awnings present. The roof extends from the rafters to cover the bay as well. The northern portion of the west wall contains a commercial loading door identical to the ones found on the northern and eastern elevations of the building. The elevation from the ground of the door openings on this side of the building suggest that there was once a porch or dock of some kind present, though it must have been very low to the ground.

The interior of the structure is divided into three main sections. The two southern sections, which include Rooms 1, 2, and 3, possess many similarities in form and materials. They all have hardwood flooring that is in a moderate degree of disrepair and no baseboards. The walls are covered with horizontally placed tongue and groove paneling. Quarter round molding is present in the comers. Windows and doors have plain wooden molding, and the ceilings are covered with the same tongue and groove paneling that is present on the walls.

Room No. 1 is located in the southwest comer of the building. The southern wall contains a twoover- two double hung window that is offset to the east several inches. The west wall contains a two-over-two double hung window in its southern portion and an inwardly opening five paneled exterior wooden door in the northern portion. The north wall contains an outwardly opening five paneled wooden door in the western portion. This door opens into Room No.3. A one-over-one double hung window is the eastern portion which also opens into Room No.3. The northern portion of the east wall is an open doorway which leads to Room No.2. Centrally located in the eastern wall is a protruding chase for a chimney. There is no evidence remaining as to whether the heating was done with a gas or wood stove. The remainder of the eastern wall is featureless.

Room No.2 is located in the southeast corner of the building. The southern wall contains an exterior, six-paneled door with a transom above. This door is slightly offset to the west. The west wall contains the eastern portion of the chimney chase present in Room No.I. To the north is the open doorway leading to Room No. 1. The North wall contains an open doorway which leads to Room No.3. The east wall contains a pair of two-over-two double hung windows. Room No.2 is the only room in the building with a sink and toilet.

Room No.3 makes up the second section of this three sectioned building. The south wall contains a doorway leading to Room No.2 in the eastern portion. Centered in the southern wall is a oneover- one double hung window which opens into Room No. 1. West of this is an inwardly swinging door which leads to Room No. 1. In the westernmost portion of the south wall is a narrow, vertically placed window which marks the protrusion of the bay on the exterior of the building. The west wall of the building contains paired, two-over-two double hung windows. The westernmost portion of the north wall of Room No.3 contains an identical narrow, vertically placed window to that marks the bay on the southern wall. There is a centrally located chimney chase identical to those in Rooms 1 and 2. The eastern portion of the northern wall contains an open doorway which leads to Room No. 4. The eastern wall contains a single, centrally located, two-over-two double hung window.

Room No.4 makes up the third section of the building. Structural elements are exposed throughout. The floors are made of rough pine. The southern wall contains a doorway in its eastern portion leading to Room No.3. There is a centrally located brick chimney that is the northern exposed portion of the chimney chase in Room No.3. The western wall contains a centrally located commercial loading door with the original hardware exposed. There is a fourpaned transom above. The north wall contains a commercial loading door offset to the east. All original hardware is exposed and there is a transom above. The east wall contains a centrally located commercial loading door identical to those found in other walls of the room. Rafters are exposed to show utility connections. There is loft space extending from the southern portion of Room No.4 over the ceilings of Rooms 1, 2, and 3.