Building Description Texas and Pacific Railroad Depot, Bonham Texas

The 1900 Texas & Pacific Railroad Depot in Bonham, Fannin County, is an oblong, 1-story building with a 3-story square tower on the south side. The building is on the edge of the Bonham business district, next to the Missouri Pacific/Texas Northeastern Railroad tracks that run to the south. Constructed of brick and stone, the depot displays numerous doorways and round arched windows as well as a low-pitched hipped roof with wide overhangs and heavy brackets. Portions rebuilt after a 1918 fire give the exterior two distinct shades of brown brick. Except for a section remodeled into offices in 1989, the interior retains most of its original elements, such as beaded board ceilings, exposed rafters, wooden doors and window mouldings. Overall, the depot has sustained very few alterations.

Bonham, the county seat and commercial center of Fannin County, is twelve miles south of the Red River and the Texas/Oklahoma border. At the intersections of U.S. Highway 82 and State Highways 78 and 121, the city is near the center of the county and surrounded by mostly blackland prairie.

The depot spans a city block between Main and Center Streets on the west and east and First Street and the Missouri Pacific/Texas Northeastern Railroad tracks railroad tracks on the north and south of the building, respectively. It sits in its original location at the southern edge of the Bonham business district. The north side of the building, which is its main approach, fronts onto First Street and has a landscaped parking lot which is used by the present occupants (Chamber of Commerce, Fannin County Museum of History, and Red River Valley Art Association). The east half of the building, originally the freight portion of the depot, fronts onto Center Street and is still encircled by the wooden freight platforms which skirt the exterior walls. The west side fronts onto Main Street and features foundation plantings like those also found on the north and east sides. A recently installed chain link fence now separates the south side of the depot from the railroad tracks, which are still used on occasion by through freight trains. Beyond the tracks to the south, a grassy field slopes down to a small creek.

The building is 215' long by 40' deep, with a 9' x 25' projecting wing for the waiting room at the northwest corner. The roof is punctuated by the building's most prominent feature, a 3-story tower on the south side with modest Romanesque detailing such as the pyramidal roof and round arched windows.

The exterior features two distinct shades of brown brick, due to most of the walls having been destroyed and rebuilt as the result of a 1918 fire. The building consists of load-bearing masonry walls on a concrete foundation, with a composition shingle, hipped roof. The broadly overhanging roof is supported and amplified by large, simple, wood brackets typical of the Carpenter/Craftsman architectural style. The foundation is trimmed with rusticated sandstone, as are the window lintels.

The north facade is the primary street orientation. It faces First Street, but is easily seen from Main and Center Streets (which run along either side) due to the building's setback and parking lot. The east half of the depot displays four freight doorways, one of which has been altered to provide a pedestrian door into the Chamber of Commerce office. The other three freight doorways have their original swinging, wood, double doors. The westernmost doorway is at ground level, while the others are at loading dock level. The ground level doorway is distinguished by nine fixed panes of glass in each door and a double row of transom lights above. This is the former baggage room. The other freight doorways have solid doors with no glass, and a single row of transom lights above. Each of the former freight doorways is framed by brick pilasters which serve as abutments for the roof brackets.

The western half of the north facade, which originally housed the waiting room, office, and ticket areas, has eight round-arched window openings with 1/1 windows. There are also two pedestrian doorways, one a double door with transom lights for the waiting room's main entrance, and the other a single door with a round arch above.

The east facade has a hipped roof, four brackets under the eaves, brick pilasters at the corners, and one double wooden door in the center of this facade, originally used for freight. As with the other freight doorways, this one features an 8-light fixed transom. The wooden freight platform extends across this facade. An air conditioner compressor, a late 1980s addition, has been mounted on the loading platform.

The south facade and roofline are interrupted by the tower which is offset from the center of the depot. The tower has a turret top, corner caps, and limestone cornice with dentils. There are 12 round-arched window openings on the top floor of the tower, three on each side. These openings are boarded up, and it is unclear from early photos whether there ever were any windows in the top of the tower. Its interior is unfinished, very difficult to access, and has never had any apparent use. A sandstone sign is embedded in the south facade of the tower, with the letters "BONHAM" worn off and barely visible. Below the sign are two diamond-shaped corbeled brick projections, as if to mark the second floor of the tower. Below the second story, the corner buttresses of the tower are topped with sandstone caps. Two round-arched windows in the tower's ground floor are for the original telegrapher's office.

The rest of the depot's south facade is similar to the north face, with four sets of wooden double doors for the freight area (three open onto the freight dock and one opens at ground level). As on the north, each freight entrance is framed with brick pilasters and wood brackets, with a fixed eight-light transom above the three loading dock doorways and a double transom of 16 lights over the ground-level doorway. Between the freight area and the tower is a single round-arched pedestrian door and one round-arched window serving the former trainmens' room.

West of the tower, the recessed 32' by 10' outdoor waiting area has a set of double doors leading into the waiting room, and three windows similar to the other round-arched, 1/1 windows. The outdoor waiting area's two bay entry is framed by foliar wrought iron brackets in each upper corner of the entry columns. West of the recessed waiting area are three more round-arched windows and wood brackets under the overhanging roof.

The west facade contains five 1/1 round-arched windows and six brackets for the overhanging hipped roof.

Inside, the building is divided into three general areas: the former freight house on the east; the former baggage room in the center; and the former offices and waiting rooms in the western portion. The eastern half of the old freight house was completely renovated in 1989, and now contains modern offices with none of the original building fabric remaining on the interior, except for the exterior brick walls. The remainder of the freight house is original and unrestored, with a raised wooden floor and exposed rafters and ceiling beams. The baggage room is also unrestored, with its original doors, ground-level concrete floor, and exposed rafters above.

The former waiting room and office area have most of their original architectural details. The wrought iron grate and frosted glass over the ticket window are still intact. The oak wainscotting, door frames, and window mouldings are all original, as is the ornate beaded board ceiling punctuated by exposed structural beams. Much of the interior woodwork has been painted, but is otherwise undisturbed.

A comparison of the facade today with a 1903 photograph of the building before it burned shows that the 1900 design was faithfully restored and retained in the 1918 reconstruction. There is obvious evidence, however, of the old and newer brick in the exterior wall. The mismatch of the colors two-thirds of the way up the wall shows where the original 1900 wall and the reconstructed 1918 wall meet. The only other minor alteration was the elimination of the small dormer vents in the roof. Historic photos indicate these vents, seen in a 1903 photo were replaced with roof tower vents, seen in a ca. 1927 photo probably sometime after the 1918 fire. These were apparently removed in the late 1920s or early 1930s when the depot was re-roofed. Unfortunately, all records associated with the depot were destroyed when the Texas & Pacific merged with the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1976 so no evidence can be found to document these dates or tell why they were removed.