Katy To Depot To Get Facelift, Fresh Purpose With New Owner
Bruce Beach says that he’s always been a railroad fanatic, which is what led him to buy Katy Depot. Now he plans to refurbish the building and hopes to turn it into a building that can be used by the whole community.
“My daughter lives locally and knew the depot was for sale,” says Beach. “I wanted to buy it for years, but work got in the way and I didn’t live locally. I’m retired now. The Lord has blessed me and it’s time to do something for someone else.”
Beach, a Navy veteran, says he is used to working up to three jobs at a time and that refurbishing Katy Depot will keep him plenty busy.
Besides railroading, Beach’s other passion is working with youth and he hopes to turn Katy Depot into something that can be operated by Council Grove youth, which he is planning for once restoration is done on the building. Beach said that his goal would be to put in a short order grill to be open for breakfast and lunch, with simple foods being served. Beach hopes that such a business could be owned and operated by teenagers who are wanting to learn about business operations and that the business would be overseen by adults.
“I’ve always wanted to work with youth,” said Beach. “I’m not sure which is more important: preserving the depot or working with the youth.”
The depot was built in 1894, replacing the original depot, which was built in 1869 and had been destroyed by a fire earlier in 1894. The depot was a stop for the Union Pacific Railway’s southern branch and became the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway in 1870. It was commonly known as the MKT or Katy and extended all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
Beach says he’s aiming for an April opening and that discussion with the National Register of Historic places will be necessary to move forward, as that will guide the renovations he can perform. The depot’s structure is solid, according to Beach, but he stated that the electrical in the building is in bad shape and will need overhauled.
Beach also hopes to make the building handicapped accessible.
Beach hopes the building can serve a new purpose as a location for community meetings, a place for veterans to gather and a spot for the youth of Council Grove to gain lasting experience in business and food service. He also hopes to hold karaoke nights, concerts and other special events at the location.
Beach is currently working to set up the depot as a non-profit organization and plans to have a crowdfunding drive to raise money for work on the building.