Library celebrates 10 years in depot
Marion City Library will have a reception from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 14 to celebrate the Santa Fe depot’s 100th birthday and 10 years of the library being in the depot.
Refreshments will be served. Displays will include Santa Fe memorabilia donated by Mark Hall, a model train display by Jerry Bruce, and pictures of the depot before it was converted into a library.
Trains started coming to Marion in 1879, but the first depot, made of wood, burned in 1908. Its replacement, a bigger brick depot, opened June 17, 1912. The depot cost $11,000, the equivalent of $250,000 today.
The track that served the depot became the Marion and McPherson Line, running between Florence and Lyons, until May 17, 1952.
The building was unoccupied before being used for multiple purposes, including a youth center and a flour mill.
The City of Marion purchased it in 1998. The city applied for a grant to restore the depot in 1999. Cost of renovation was $758,000, paid primarily by a grant. The city’s share was $152,000, which was raised through donations, fundraisers, and sales of engraved bricks and T-shirts.
Work began in November 2001. The depot reopened as the library July 14, 2002. More than 400 people attended the dedication. The relocation doubled the space the library had in the city building.
The library was in several locations before moving to the depot. A library opened in 1893 in a YMCA but closed shortly after. The Altruistic Club began a library in 1902 in a building occupied by an auto shop and garage. A flood in 1904 almost ruined the library, so it was moved to the basement of the Courthouse. A library association formed in 1904 with annual dues of $1 per family; only families who paid dues could use the library.
The city took over operation in 1916, although it remained in the courthouse until 1918, when a room was rented over a pool hall downtown. The library moved again in 1922 to the Marion County Record office, then to the C.B. Wheeler Building. The library moved to the municipal building in 1938, where it remained until 2002.