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Railroad depot renovation work 'on schedule'

Completion expected by Oct. 4, for Eggplant Festival
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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Restoration and renovation of the Loomis railroad depot is on schedule, according to Loomis Mayor Russ Kelley. “It should be ready by the 4th of October for the Eggplant Festival,” Kelley said. “That’s still the goal and that is the commitment by the contractor.” The depot is the focal point of Loomis Station Plaza, where the festival is held. Installation of the moisture barrier started last week. Siding will follow, and exterior painting is scheduled to begin today. Interior painting won’t begin until the end of the month, as installation of the wallboard has yet to start. The building will be used by the town as a community center and meeting room for the town council, planning commission and park and open space commission. Meetings are now held at town hall and at Veterans Memorial Hall when larger attendance is expected and when available. The new space will have occupancy of 110, compared to approximately 40 to 45 at town hall, said Perry Beck, town manager. The depot will be “more convenient” and “lends itself to better presentations,” Kelley said. It should also be more comfortable, as it will get a new, efficient heating and air conditioning system. Kelley said historical artifacts will be displayed on the walls and in cases in the meeting room. With the installation of a fire alarm system, Kelly added, “We have reasonable expectations of saving those artifacts that we value.” Some of those artifacts are coming from the depot itself. Kelley said the old electrical wiring in the building consisted of knob and tube conduit. “I want to put them (the pieces salvaged) on display ¬– to show these were part of the building but weren’t saved because it was obsolete technology.” Another significant artifact from the depot is a piece of interior siding found by contractor Nathan Piches. It is signed by someone involved in the building’s original construction: “Padwaig J. Meyen (or Meyuw), Galway City, Ireland. March 25, 1910. According to Kelley, the siding all had to be removed and was very dry. “It was fastened very well, so it’s hard to remove without complete damage. Most of it is gone,” Kelley said. But a small section of the exterior siding was in good shape, as were most of the roof braces, he said. “All the trusses were saved,” Kelley said, “That’s a biggee.” And the old trusses, he said, are superior to most materials available today. “They are pretty much clear of knots … it is better wood.” One aspect of the $975,000 project not expected to be completed in time for the Eggplant Festival is the landscaping. “We don’t have any defined plans yet,” Beck said. However, he said the landscaping should consist of low-growing shrubs, a drip irrigation system, and extension of the fence dividing the property from the railroad right of way. There will also be a path added in the back of the depot, “so that you can walk from the patio all around the building,” Beck said. According to research compiled by the Loomis Basin Historical Society, the existing depot building was constructed in 1910 as a freight depot to accommodate the region’s burgeoning fruit industry. A historical society pamphlet on the depot quotes the March 26, 1910 issue of the Placer Herald: “The new depot is finished except for the painting. The telegraph and telephone wires are roughed in and the building will be ready for occupancy. It is 133-feet long and its overhanging roof makes it appear lower than it is. Nevertheless, it is an attractive building and well adapted to its purpose.”