Will the old Missouri, Kansas & Texas Depot come back to life as a brewery, cafe or ice cream shop? Approval of Temple's Downtown plan in January could mean a bright future for the aging building.
FRIDAY DECEMBER 24, 2021 MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Beautiful but boarded, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad Depot between Adams and Central could become a renovation project if City County approves a Downtown neighborhood plan next month. The old depot has been vacant for years but could find new life as some sort of destination — perhaps a cafe, nightspot or music hall — if the renovation is approved. David Stone | Our Town Temple
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
A “yes” vote by Temple City Council next month could bring new life to an aging Temple landmark.
Renovation of The Katy railroad depot, located along East Adams Avenue, is part of a Downtown plan Temple City Council will consider for approval in January.
The plan was released earlier this month, and it outlines recommendations designed to attract new businesses and residents into the neighborhood by creating jobs and recreational opportunities.
“It’s all in review right now, but we’ve been looking at some possibilities for The Katy,” said Erin Smith, assistant Temple city manager. “We have options: We could turn it over to private investors, or the city could renovate the building then lease it out.”
The historic structure — built by the Missouri, Kansas & Texas (The Katy) Railroad in 1913 — has greatly deteriorated over the years and would require an extensive overhaul, according to Craig Ordner, archivist for the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum and the Springer Railroad Archives.
“The old building is a project, no doubt,” Ordner said. “It has lead paint and asbestos, and the electrical system needs replacing. There’s no central heat or air, and there’s a half-basement that floods after a heavy rain. Still, it would be a very cool destination for Downtown Temple.”
Smith said consultants have suggested several uses for a renovated Katy, including an indoor/outdoor brewery, a cafe or an ice cream parlor.
Temple residents also have ideas for the depot’s future use.
“How about a Steam-Punk tea shop with ‘high tea’ and little girl birthday tea parties?” asked Michelle Pace. “I’ve always loved tea parlors.”
Other ideas contributed by Temple residents via social media interviews included a bus terminal and a sports bar.
A part of Temple’s railroad history
Just two years after Temple was founded in 1881 by the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway, a second line was built through Temple.
The new rail line connected Houston with Fort Worth, and the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad built its first depot between Adams and Central. That depot was later torn down and the current structure was built in the same location in 1912, according to Ordner.
In its day, the depot was bustling. The Katy ran 14 passenger trains a day through Temple, including the immensely popular Texas Special, which left Temple at 3:15 every afternoon and pulled into Chicago at 8:30 the following morning.
The train also was popular during the Korean War, according to information provided to Ordner by E.M. Hentschel, a ticket agent at the Katy Depot from 1945 until he retired in 1980. According to Hentshcel, he and another agent sold $5,000 worth of tickets in one day just before Christmas, primarily to Fort Hood soldiers going home for the holiday.
The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad was purchased by Union Pacific in 1988, and the use of the Temple station diminished. The UP was about to advertise for demolition bids in 1993 when the city stepped forward.
“UP donated the building to the city for use as a railroad archive and research facility,” Ordner said. “The Springer Archive moved into the building but only stayed about a year. It wasn’t in good shape. The city installed a window unit that had been at the Santa Fe Depot, and they put an electric heater on the ceiling, but that wasn’t enough. It got very hot and very cold.”
Ordner said Springer Archives moved first the Santa Fe Depot, then to the old U.S. Post Office building at the corner of Adams and Main.
“We’ve moved around a lot,” he said. “I joke that I run a mobile archives library.”
Today, the Springer and its massive railroad document collection is located in the Kyle Hotel.
“When we left the Katy, the intent was to eventually renovate the building and the Archive would move back,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s a good idea — it would only serve the Springer Archive, and we don’t get a lot of people in here. Most of our business is conducted online.”
“A renovated Katy should be something the people of Temple can enjoy,’ Ordner continued. “A restaurant, a bar, a recreation center — something people can use.”
Downtown plan recommendations
According to Smith, the assistant Temple city manager, redevelopment of the Katy Depot into a brewery, cafe or ice cream shop would extend Downtown eastward and attract visitors to that part of town.
“Our consultants’ top recommendation is renovating the building into an indoor/outdoor brewery” she said. “That’s been done in other parts of the country — Vermont, Connecticut and other states. An 1887 depot in Kerrville has been renovated and it’s now a popular cafe.”
“We’ve thought about asking BJ’s Tasting Room to consider relocating to the depot,” Smith said. BJ’s Tasting Room, which is located a block west of the depot, had not been contacted about the possible move.
“An indoor/outdoor brewery or combination brewery and cafe would be very cool,” she said. “Renovated Katy railroad cars could be moved from the Santa Fe Depot to the Katy to use as dining areas.”
“That would really build on the site’s railroad history,” Smith said. “There are so many possibilities.”
The Katy Depot renovation is just a small part of the overall Downtown plan. Our Town Temple will be providing looks at some of the components of the plan during the next few days.
The depot — built at a cost of $80,000 — measures 42 feet by 135 feet, and the red-tiled roof covers a large outdoor area, perfect for garden seating or games.
City residents offer additional ideas
Temple residents seem pleased the badly deteriorating Katy Depot may get fresh blood, and some have definite opinions about the building’s future.
“I am trying to think of ‘destination’ places that locals will utilize,” said Pace, the resident who favors a tea room. “There was a great tea parlor my friends and I used to go to. They had a new menu every month, and it was great for girls’ day outs, birthday tea parties for little ones (with fancy hats to choose from) and purple hat groups and book clubs. They sold tea, tea pots, etc. We made reservations religiously.”
“I think Temple should lean into the era of the building,” she continued. “I like the idea of live music but I’m not sure of the size of the depot. The nice thing about a tea parlor is that you are brewing teas and making ‘small bites’ so the kitchen wouldn’t have to be huge.”
Pace said a visit to a Temple tea room could be a nice day trip for folks living in Austin or Waco.
“It could be a real boon for the area,” she explained. “Temple has a ton of potential. It’s about mixing standard activities with unique destinations.”
Pace even has thought of a name for the business — Olde Thyme Tea Parlour.
“It kind of fits with the era of this depot,” she said.
Another Temple resident, Carli Shine, said she thinks it would be cool to keep the depot in the transportation field.
“Maybe it could be a terminal for The Hop transit buses,” she said. “Right now, they are Downtown, and traffic can get kind of congested. If they had their own place a couple blocks away from City Hall, they would have room for expansion. Also, charter buses such as Greyhound and Arrow could pick up there. And, if Temple ever gets taxi service again, they could locate at the depot as well.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to another brewery but doesn’t Temple already have a few?” she said. “Tanglefoot, Fire Base and BJ’s Tasting Room are here, and Bold Republic and Bird Creek are building breweries,” she said. “Maybe something different — wouldn’t it be cool if someone created a mini-Harvey House restaurant? Perfect for a depot.”
Shellie Pratt Downing of Troy thinks the depot would make a great restaurant and sports bar.
“I love it when people use the original style of a building and make it work for something totally new,” she said.
The Katy Depot and the Missouri, Kansas & Texas rail yard are shown in this undated photo from the Fred & Dale Springer Archive in Temple. During its prime, the Katy welcomed 14 passenger trains every day, connecting Temple with America.
The Katy Depot has a covered outside area that could be used as a protected patio for outdoor dining and celebrating. David Stone | Our Town Temple
Katy passenger sues after slipping on banana peel
The headline pretty much tells the story — or does it?
Here’s a tale railroad archivist Craig Ordner shared with Our Town Temple this week. It’s based on an article that ran in a Temple newspaper on May 3, 1928, and it has absolutely nothing to do with renovating the old depot.
The story centers around J.W. Martin, a man who claimed to have slipped on a banana peel at the Katy railway station. According to Martin, he suffered injuries to his head and back.
Apparently, Martin’s story turned to mush — he was arrested by Bell County deputies for fabricating the incident.
According to the newspaper report: “The accused man has had similar experiences prior to this, having recently collected from a street railway and accident insurance company for alleged injuries said to have been suffered in accidents very similar to the circumstances at the Katy station.”
Representatives of these other companies have identified the man “as being the one to whom they paid damages recently, although in a statement to MK&T Railway officials the man is understood to have an affidavit that he never had a claim for damages for injuries against any corporation or individual.”
“Complaints of false swearing were filed in court and Sheriff Monroe Shepperd made the arrest. The man was lodged in the county jail.”