Building Description Katy Depot - MKT Railway Passenger Station, Greenville Texas

The 1896 Katy Depot in Greenville, Hunt County is a Late Victorian eclectic railroad passenger station on a flat 3.29 acre parcel of land just west of the central business district. The design of the 1-story brick and stone building reflects its function; it is long and narrow with waiting room access to the street on the east side and to the platform and railroad tracks on the west. The shallow pitched roof has deep eaves protecting the grade level passenger platform paved with vitreous brick. The site includes the foundation of a freight office building surrounded by several mature trees, one set of tracks currently used by the Dallas, Garland & Northeastern Railroad, and a wide grassy area. Despite the removal of the original rotunda after a storm damaged the roof in 1950, the building retains a high degree of historic and architectural integrity. No other structural changes have been made to the building since 1920.

Greenville, the county seat and largest town, is the commercial and manufacturing center of Hunt County, some sixty miles northeast of Dallas on Interstate Highway 30. The Katy Depot is at the corner of Lee and Wright Streets at the edge of Greenville's downtown business district. Lee Street, a state highway, constitutes one of the two main east/west thoroughfares of Greenville.

When the station opened in 1896, it was surrounded by a hotel on the west side, the Greenville Ice Company to the northwest, a saloon, barber shop, and restaurant to the east, and the MKT freight station across Lee Street to the south. On the site, a tool shed stood to the west of the tracks while to the north of the building was the coal platform and sand shed.

Wright Street to the east, Lee Street to the south, the railroad tracks to the west, and Henry Street to the north border the site. Across Wright Street are the remains of the Greenville Hotel and bus station, victim of an arson fire in June, 1996. Directly south is railroad right of way with an automotive repair shop next to it on the west. A service station occupies the southeast corner of the intersection. A former auto dealership is directly west and a cabinet shop occupies a warehouse across Henry Street to the north.

The brick passenger station dominates the 3.29 acre site. A brick sidewalk borders the building on the east side, next to Wright Street. The grade level brick platform on the west extends around both the north and south ends of the building. The tracks adjacent to the passenger platform have been removed and the bed bricked over. Grass has been allowed to grow through the brick paving north of the building. A large section of the Coffeyville pavers was stolen after the current owner acquired the depot and cleared the vegetation.

The 40' x 148' building features a limestone foundation with walls of red pressed face brick with cut sandstone wainscoting. All exterior walls consist of pressed face brick with cut sandstone wainscoting and window sills. The 45° angle corners (there are no 90° corners) feature decorative brick beads. Bull-nosed smooth brick surround window and door openings while rusticated brick characterized the flat areas between openings. Doors with transoms (some with side lights) consist of painted pine with raised panels. Window sashes are wood as are the beams supporting the west platform canopy and the Eastlake-style stick brackets on the east side. Asbestos replaced the original slate roof after the 1950 storm damage. Sections have since been repaired with composition shingles recommended by the Texas Historical Commission.

The deep roof overhang forming a canopy over the passenger platform forms the focus of the west facade facing the tracks perpendicular to Lee Street. Decorative beams perpendicular to the building embellish the support beams. Downspouts, held in place by decorative straps, need to be replaced. The cast iron downspout receptacles remain in place. The ticket office bay, between the two waiting rooms, features windows providing north and south views along the tracks.

The prominent, and very decorative, 52 foot brick rotunda over the main waiting room originally formed the focal point of the west side. The arched windows on three sides of the rotunda featured a sunburst masonry pattern similar to that of the interior fireplace surround. A steep tent roof with decorative finial capped the rotunda. The chimney to the south featured a stylized cast iron "MKT".

The east facade faces Wright Street and is similar to the west side except without the agent's bay. Roof eaves extend over the sidewalk but are not as deep as the west overhang. Doors are only a few feet from the curb, providing easy access for passengers with baggage.

The south side of the depot faces Lee Street. The platform canopy extends halfway across the facade, making two separate roof peaks. The truncated corners and high windows add visual interest.

The north facade includes a baggage platform and sliding door from the baggage room. The platform canopy extends along the track area several feet beyond the building, creating a free-standing section to the north.

Interior walls and ceilings are pine beaded siding. Interior walls and ceilings have not been "slipcovered" with modern materials but maintain the integrity of their original pine beaded siding. Decorative wood lintels trim the fireplace and window and door openings. Prominent picture molding surrounds the waiting rooms just below the coved ceiling. The main waiting room features a large brick fireplace with a sunburst design. Carved brackets for the raised panel mantel were removed (date unknown) and have been replaced temporarily with plain supports. The original wood tongue and groove flooring remains in the ticket office. The remainder of the building has poured concrete floors, probably installed during the 1920 remodeling of the restrooms when the concrete floor was overlaid with hexagonal ceramic tiles. The beaded siding on ceiling and walls was replaced with painted plaster and tile. Restroom partitions of Texas marble with oak doors were also installed.

A basement, housing the boiler for radiant heat, has almost certainly been filled in, since the access stairway on the west side has been removed and the stair doorway bricked in. This was probably done in 1920 as well, as the stairway once occupied the space for the remodeled colored men's room.

The floor plan of the building serves its function as a railroad passenger station and bows to the racial segregation which existed during most of its years of public use. The colored waiting room was on the north side of the office, with restroom facilities adjacent to it. The mail and baggage room occupied the north end of the depot, with access to the loading platform outside. A 1939 plan shows a baggage master's office in the northwest corner and a high platform with loading on the east side. These features no longer exist. A small office between the baggage area and the former African-American waiting room was used as a records room following the 1920 remodeling.

Restrooms (fixtures have been removed) are on either side of the former records room. The colored waiting room to the south currently serves as office space for the owner's contracting company. A partition has been added from the northeast corner of the ticket office to the east wall to enclose the room.

The ticket office to the west and an open area to the east border the south end of the small waiting room. The main waiting room is adjacent to these areas. On the south end are the fireplace and the entrances to the men's smoking room and women's restroom with bathrooms beyond them on the south end of the building.

Wooden benches provided seating in the two waiting rooms. The main waiting room boasted a stone and brick fireplace on the south end, flanked by doors to the Men's Smoking Room and the Women's Room. Restroom facilities were connected to these lounges at the south end of the building.

The ticket and telegraph office was north of the main waiting room on the west side. The east side featured lunch counters serving the two waiting rooms. Since meals were not provided on the early trains, passengers purchased refreshments at the station to eat on their journey.