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Route 66 News

City of Amarillo votes to buy historic Santa Fe depot

The Amarillo City Commission voted Tuesday to buy the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown for $2.6 million, including renovations, despite some objections from residents over the cost, reported the Amarillo Globe-News.

The newspaper said:

Commissioners spoke of important factors considered in the purchase real estate — its relatively large size, proximity to the Civic Center that is on track for expansion, the possibility of using it as an Amtrak station and its historical value.

“I think an opportunity like this comes around every 100 years and this is 100 years,” said Commissioner Lilia Escajeda. “We’re not hanging our hats on Amtrak. We don’t know about that. It’s out of our hands.”

Commissioner Ellen Robertson Green agreed.

“I think purchasing the depot is imperative,” she said. “It’s important to have a historic structure like this in public hands.”

According to the report, Amarillo may get back Southwest Chief train service sometime next year for the first time since the 1970s if Amtrak can’t reach a deal with Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado for $100 million in rail repairs and $10 million a year in maintenance.

Commissioner Brian Eades told KFDA-TV a few things the city also was considering with the depot:

“Long term, we would ultimately like to turn our Civic Center into a Convention Center. We would really love to consider an expanded so Coliseum we can bring in bigger events that are now going to Lubbock. There is a lot of property there for that. But also, the building in it’s own right is a great jewel for a center for inter mobile transportation,” Eades told us.

Eades was keeping things close to the vest, but I suspect the city was looking at what is going on with other repurposed Harvey Houses in the Southwest — La Posada in particular — and thought it would be wise to have Amarillo’s preserved and redeveloped into a tourist destination.

According to the Harvey House site, the Amarillo depot Harvey House opened in 1910 and closed about 1940. It isn’t on Route 66, but sits just a few blocks from it in downtown. And this is just the thing — if properly renovated — would gain keen interest from Route 66 travelers.

(Hat tip to Nick Gerlich; postcard image of Santa Fe Depot from 66Postcards.com)

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2 thoughts on “City of Amarillo votes to buy historic Santa Fe depot

  1. Steve Davis

    Amarillo’s Santa Fe Depot did not close in 1940. Where do you get such information? The nation was just beginning to gear up for WWll Amarillo had a large Army Airfield which operated clear up until the early 80’s. Soldiers came and went out of Amarillo and all over the nation by the trainload. The Harvey House operation at the Depot, possibly closed in ’40 or later in the 40’s. But not the depot. Amarillo had passenger service on the Santa Fe, with decreasing frequency, clear up until the time it was turned over to Amtrak.

  2. xy47402

    I just linked to the Amraillo Globe-News site. I’m astonished at local resistance & resentment of this project. Do those people not understand what a wonderful historic asset they have? — what it could become, if it’s done right? I’ve seen the depot from the street three times and would love to have bought a lunch or toured a museum inside that building — I would have paid as much as $20 to do it — but it was closed to the public. I understand that there are several factors beyond Amarillo’s immediate control (e.g. Amtrak). But instead of their
    caustic whining, bitching and complaining, they might show the enthusiasm and energy — civic spirit and boosterism — that could swing the deal their way. I hope it works out for them in all respects.

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