Denim and Diamonds

Southern Pacific Train Depot

Friends of the Orange Depot (FOOD) have been working diligently for years to raise funds for the restoration of the historic Southern Pacific Train Depot in Orange and could soon see their efforts come to fruition as planners project an open house likely in the first quarter of 2017.

During this year’s fundraising gala, Denim and Diamonds, FOOD is raising funds for exhibits to display in the new museum at the depot.

“The restoration of the train station is almost complete,” FOOD founder and president Carrie Woliver divulged Oct. 25. “Site work will continue after the first of the year, and I anticipate an open house in early March so folks can see how beautiful the depot has turned out. Everyone is so excited about it.”

The Orange City Council jumped on board, recently voting to award $25,000 to FOOD from the Hotel Occupancy Tax. FOOD has also received funds from a number of generous donors, and The Meadows Foundation in Dallas awarded the nonprofit a $50,000 matching grant for the renovation project.

The depot was built in 1902. It went unused for decades until Woliver and husband Ron purchased it and founded FOOD in November 2013 to raise funds for the restoration of the historic structure and for its operation upon completion. Woliver, author of “The Train Stopped in Orange: A Captivating Family History Revealed through 1917 Texas Diaries,” has said she hopes to preserve the history of the once-bustling center of activity by saving the structure and keeping as much of the original architecture as possible. The railroad and depot played an important role in her grandparents’ lives, as revealed in Woliver’s historical book.

The Denim and Diamonds gala will raise funds for museum exhibits and for operating expenses for the depot. It is scheduled for Nov. 19 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Orange VFW, 5303 Highway 87 N. in Orange.

FOOD Treasurer Rose Simar said this is the first time the group will hold its festive annual fundraiser at the VFW, and she hopes to attract even more attendees than in years past.

“We wanted a venue that is accessible to everyone, and the VFW is the perfect fit for our Denim and Diamonds theme,” said Simar. “We have some excellent musicians scheduled this year, and we’re going to have some great auction items up for bid for the live and silent auctions, like we do every year.”

Among the auction items Simar mentioned are four tickets on Amtrak’s Sunset Limited train ride from Beaumont to New Orleans and back, an elegant private wine tasting, a painting by Orange native and Hemphill resident artist Norma Rudeseal Godwin, and much more.

Roberts Meat Market and Steakhouse is catering the event, and Simar said there’s going to be plenty of delicious Texas barbecue for attendees.

FOOD is also paying tribute to one its late members – educator, environmental champion and past director at Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center Michael Hoke, who passed away Jan. 13, 2016.

Tickets are available from any member of Friends of the Orange Depot for a donation of $30. Call Rose Simar for tickets at (409) 886-1970, or stop by Lookin’ Good Salon at Northway Shopping Center in Orange, 3711 N. 16th St., to make your purchase.

Sponsors for the Denim and Diamond Gala are Neighbors Emergency Center, Sabine Title, Orange Stationer, Fabricating Solutions, LLC, Decolores Religious and Gifts, BHI, Mathews Jewelers, Liz Hogan Agency, Granger Chevrolet, Capital Title, The Horseman’s Store, Eye On, Pinpoint Security, Dominion Inc., Shaddock Homes, Carworks, S&W, Claybar Funeral Homes, Juliet and Jack Smith, and KOGT.


FOOD is seeking more auction items for the fundraiser. Email info [at] orangetxdepot [dot] org to donate items.