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Big plans coming as renovations continue at old train depot

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NEW BERN, Craven County - The old New Bern train depot in the historic area of the Colonial Capital is about to get phase two of its makeover.

The facility was built in 1910 and was last used in 1987. It fell into disrepair, but the New Bern Preservation Foundation struck a deal with the railroad company that owns the building and New Bern city officials to start renovating the building in order to re-purpose it.

"We just fell in love with the place, and it gets into your blood," Joe Mansfield, Chairman of the Depot Committee, said.

The first phase was done in 2013 when the roof was repaired and exterior brick work was also done. The luggage room was also refurbished. Now the N.B.P.F. has enough money raised to start phase 2, which will including restoring the rest of the first floor.

"Instead of doing it piecemeal, we decided we would finish off the whole first floor," Mansfield said. "When I say finish off, that means complete restoration of the wainscoting, all the windows, doors and open it the way it used to look."

The third phase will be restoring the second floor once the money has been raised. A big fundraiser for the Preservation Foundation is the New Antique Shot that takes place at the Convention Center this weekend. Once construction is finished there are two options for the building.

"One is retail, turn it into a retail complex," Mansfield said. "The second is to turn it into an entertainment complex. Maybe a wedding venue, a wine bar, or something of that nature because there is space for an outdoor patio."

Mansfield said people are stepping forward to donate items.

"One of the things we found when we started doing this is, people whose family was involved with the depot donated things to us," Mansfield said. "We have conductor's uniforms. There was a coffee shop, where you would get something while waiting for the train.

"Well, the grandson of the man who ran it contacted us, he has a picture of his grand dad behind the counter. So the reality is here."

Phase two construction is slated to be completed by October of 2017.

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