Texas A&M Students Helping Breathe New Life Into Deanville Train Depot

Andrew Billingsley and Ben Baaske capture images of the Deanville depot. (Texas A&M College of Architecture)

Andrew Billingsley and Ben Baaske capture images of the Deanville depot. (Texas A&M College of Architecture)

By Sarah Wilson, Texas A&M University College of Architecture

Using high-tech tools including photogrammetry, laser scanning and 3-D modeling, Texas A&M preservation students created custom historic documentation and restoration plans for a beloved 105-year-old Deanville, Texas-based train depot, which citizens hope to restore and use as a museum and community center.

Working with the College of Architecture’s Center for Heritage Conservation, Brent Fortenberry, assistant professor of architecture, and a mix of 11 Ph.D., graduate and undergraduate students, spent countless hours surveying and documenting the building’s architectural features, and creating a restoration plan. The Deanville Heritage Foundation can use the plans to apply for grants and work with architects to rehabilitate the depot, located approximately 40 miles from College Station.

Similar to other early 20th century train depots, the building has architecturally defining brackets which support the roof, a characteristic that is re-emerging in modern depots, Fortenberry said. One historic gem unique to the Deanville Depot remains ­– a set of wide, Board and Batten swinging doors in a herringbone pattern, which somehow survived the decades and can one day be restored.

A student-created, digital rendering of the depot. (Texas A&M College of Architecture)

A student-created, digital rendering of the depot. (Texas A&M College of Architecture)

“These kinds of projects are what we like to do,” Fortenberry said. “It’s really illustrative of Texas A&M’s Land-Grant mission to aid these small Texas towns who don’t have a ton of money to rehab old buildings.”

Deanville was the agricultural hub of western Burleson County in the 1920s, shipping cotton and cord wood on the railways, according to Tommy Ryan, a member of the Deanville Heritage Foundation.

“The 1913 Depot is the last of the county’s original six depots,” Ryan said. “It definitely needs to be preserved for its historical value.  We hope to restore it to its look in the 1920s, with telegraph lines, wall phones, waiting rooms, and freight containers.”

The plans created by the students were submitted to the Historic American Building Survey through the U.S. Department of the Interior and archived in the Library of Congress.

“The drawings will survive in perpetuity,” Fortenberry said. “The Library of Congress will become a steward of it forever.”

The Center for Heritage Conservation trains students, professionals and others in the use and application of imaging processes relative to historic and cultural resources. Students learn to develop new techniques for documentation, analysis, visualization and interpretation, and to apply imaging techniques to the study of historic resources.

CHC also oversees the College of Architecture’s Certificate in Historic Preservation, a program of courses integrated within a wide range of professional disciplines. The certificate, which has gained wide acclaim, serves as a model for other programs.


This article by Sarah Wilson originally appeared in ArchOne.


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