Keeping up the Depot
By Jay Gamel, president, Kenwood Community Club
You don’t have to live in Kenwood long to discover that the historic railroad depot on Warm Springs Road is a national landmark as well as the site of many, many happy gatherings since it became a public property in the 1940s. It was sold to the Kenwood Improvement Club for $10 and Southern Pacific was glad to get it off their books. Keeping the 1887 building up to date has been a principal job for the owners ever since.
The Improvement Club morphed into the Kenwood Community Club back in 1982, finalizing a change in mission from outright boosterism of the original 1909 organization to the preservation and community service association it is today. Ownership of the Depot flowed with the name change as the KCC assumed all duties and obligations, as well as property, of the KIC.
One of the first accomplishments of the KCC in 1982 was obtaining a $10,000 grant from the county Landmark’s Commission. The grant was funded by the county’s advertising budget and went straight to some long overdue maintenance and cleanup.
That money built a fence around the property, graded the land, removed old asphalt and prepped the parking lot for a new layer, painted the exterior windows and trim, and prepped the exterior walls for new paint. Most importantly, it allowed for a new roof with fiberglass composition shingles. The pump house, pump and tank were replaced with modern equivalents conforming to county requirements.
In 2015, the KCC successfully applied for a $15,000 grant that provided a new fire place insert, gas log, and new chimney liner, along with new cabinets, countertops, and floors in the ticket office. New gutters and downspouts were added, and the floor was refinished. The ticket booth was given a thorough upgrade. Finally, the new grant paid to paint the benches and put together the photo exhibits hanging on the walls.
The Club put in for another grant last year, this one for $12,899 … and has just gotten the check. This money will provide new kitchen cabinets and countertops, replace the kitchen sink and fixtures, put new linoleum on the kitchen and bathroom floors, and provide new sheet rock and insulation. It has already covered the cost of repairing and resealing the parking lot asphalt.
With this latest grant, the KCC will hold off until all the current projects are finished before applying for more.
Grants aren’t the only source of funding for projects, either. The Club has raised money over the years from generous gifts, contributions and high-level memberships of $250, $500 and $1,000, as well as the regular membership fees from everyone who supports the KCC.
A current project will have ceiling fans – historically appropriate, of course – installed to help with both cooling and heating. They will be up in the next month or so.
Also, following several years of working to determine appropriate levels of activity at the Depot, the current board is endorsing public uses to include reasonable and appropriate events that do not disturb the neighborhood and provide the community with a delightful and reasonable space to hold events. It is not the place for large weddings or major events, but a great resource for civic and private gatherings.
The current KCC Board of Directors consists of myself, Nazar Eljumaily (VP), Liz Parsons (Secretary), Denise Benguerel (Treasurer), Nigel Hall (Program Committee), and Silvio Amantiti (Building and Grounds). Randy Blythe has stepped down from the board to become the fulltime Depot manager, taking care of the business of making this wonderful resource serve as a unique local venue.
We all urge you to join the KCC as a member of our community and to support keeping the Kenwood Depot in good shape for generations to come. Check us out at www.kenwooddepot.com or send a check for $25 or more to P.O. Box 275, Kenwood, CA 95452.