Depot committee working toward Manila's Preserve America Community status

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rhea Roberts, agent with the Preserve America Community of Historic Preservation Alliance Arkansas, and Vanessa McKuin, director of Historic Preservation Alliance, met with members of the Manila Depot Committee on Thursday to discuss goals and objectives in their efforts to have Manila included in the Preserve America Community status.

Vanessa McKuin, director of Historic Preservation Alliance, and Rhea Roberts, agent of Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas, met with the Manila Depot Committee assisting in the committee's efforts in seeking Preserve America Community status for Manila. They enjoyed a tour of the museum located in the old train depot. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

The 100 year old Depot has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1997 as an amendment to the Historic Railroad Depots of Arkansas.

The Depot committee, with the support of the city, had the building renovated to its original state and turned into a museum housing antique items for future generations to view.

The renovation of the building was done by master carpenter Gary Plummer. He restored as much of the original structure as possible.

Members of the Depot Committee include Janella Caraway, Linda and Dan Donovan, Lisa Hitchcock, JoAnn Bennett-president, Benny Bennett, Elvina Bollinger, Violet Alexander, Donna Jackson, Calvnita Halfacre, and Barbara Chojnacki.

The Manila Depot Committee is a non-profit organization that was formed to promote the heritage and culture of Manila and to oversee the establishment of the museum in the original structure of Manila's train Depot building.

"We were fortunate to have Eena Grieshammer and Roxie Cates, sisters, give an endowment," Bollinger said. "The EHC had started a project to save the depot but we would not have been able to see the progress we have without their generosity."

Through the memorial from the sisters, Manila was able to build a new library and depot center meeting room and renovate the train station into a museum.

Through the Arkansas Historic Preservation organizations, area residents are informed on the importance of preserving the area heritage and myriad historic resources. They provide leadership, assistance, and guidance for Arkansans involved in historic preservation activities on all levels.

"The city council and our Mayor are very supportive of our efforts," Donna Jackson said. "We have a member of the depot committee who also serves on the city council and is a liaison for us promoting the work we do here at the

Several projects are underway for the museum. A new sign has been ordered. Funding has been acquired for a train mural that will be done by local artist Dan Donovan. The museum will be open for school students to see what life was like over the last 100 years.

Roberts and McKuin invited members of the depot and the city to the Arkansas Preservation Conference scheduled for October. They informed the depot members of the tax credit available through the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas and the National trust for Historic Preservation, tax incentives for restoration and preservation at the local levels, in-kind support, block grants for historic preservation, heritage tourism promotion, etc.

Roberts said she would present the plan and the application. It could take up to three months. She said it looked as if everything is in order for Manila to become a Preservation Community.

Committee members thanked the women for their time and assistance. The guests toured the museum and toured the downtown area and other historical sites in the area.

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