Pullman Depot Heritage Center receives $200,000 anonymous donation

Whitman County Historical Society is in-process of restoring historic depot

The+Pullman+Depot+Heritage+Center+is+currently+under+renovations.+The+donation+will+go+towards+the+efforts+to+restore+the+builidng+to+its+former+glory.

JUSTIN WASHINGTON

The Pullman Depot Heritage Center is currently under renovations. The donation will go towards the efforts to restore the builidng to its former glory.

ALEXANDRIA OSBORNE, Life editor

The Whitman County Historical Society recently received a $200,000 gift from an anonymous donor, which will go towards the restoration of the Pullman Depot Heritage Center. 

Allison Munch-Rotolo, College Hill Association Board of Directors chair, said the building is an old train depot that was built over 100 years ago. When trains stopped running in Pullman, the railroad company that owned it sold it. 

The previous owner owned the property for over 20 years before he passed away, Munch-Rotolo said. 

Linda Hackbarth, Pullman Depot Heritage Center chair, said in 2018, the Whitman County Historical Society Board of Directors decided to purchase the Northern Pacific Depot from the owner’s daughter when she put it up for sale. 

“She was willing to deal with a nonprofit if the depot could be maintained,” she said. “She didn’t want it torn down and become apartment houses.”

Munch-Roloto said when the historical society initially bought the property, they were unsure of what to use it for; they just wanted to try and save it before they figured out what to do with it. 

They came up with the idea to turn the building into a Heritage Center where people can come together and learn about the history of the area, Hackbarth said. 

Before they started working on the building, they disposed of a locomotive and two passenger cars that were against the building, she said. They did not start the restoration process until they were gone because they were an inconvenience. 

The locomotive went to a museum, and the passenger cars went to individual families in 2021, Hackbarth said. 

The state provides funds for nonprofit organizations who are working on preservation projects to help with the finance side of things, she said. The committee is hoping to have a set of phases to develop the depot with the funds they receive from the state. 

“We’re set in stone right now in phase one, which is the restoration of the brick and sandstone exterior, and the redoing of the roof, soffits and gutters,” Hackbarth said.

In 2023, Hackbarth said she hopes to work on the roofing and restore the windows of the building before starting some interior work. The committee is currently putting together a grant application for that specific project. 

Munch-Rotolo said there is a freight room that is open on weekends and has exhibits that show railroad history; this opens the opportunity for people to learn about what the building was originally used for.

“The ultimate goal is to open it as a Heritage Center … because Pullman right now does not have a museum or any place in town that actually celebrates the history of Pullman,” she said. “The vision is a place that would sort of celebrate local history.”

The gift the depot received from the donor will help with the costs directed toward the restoration process and will make a big difference in the initial stages, Hackbarth said.

The restoration process will take a few years, though, Hackbarth said. But, she continues to work toward the finish line because she is looking forward to having an open Heritage Center. 

“It’s gifts like this that certainly give us hope,” she said.