1914 Apex Union Depot
This information is in part from The Apex Historical Society Fifteenth Annual Holiday Home Tour program, December 2, 2001. Much of the detail was from The Apex Journal published in 1911.
The Apex 1914 Depot has a long history of serving the community as a train depot from the time the original building was constructed in 1906. The original building burned in 1914 and the current structure was built to replace it and remains in use today. It currently serves as home of the Apex Chamber of Commerce.
The building design is basically the same as the original structure. Facing North Salem Street are the original entrances. The Northern part of the depot (the left side) was a passenger waiting area and one entered into a large waiting room with an area to the far left, behind the fireplace, for ladies who were traveling alone. Later the ladies restroom was constructed in this area. The center of the building housed the ticket offices with access to the waiting areas. The baggage room was located in the far south part of the building.
The depot served the train travelers well until the late 1960's when passenger trains no longer made stops in Apex. One had to "catch" a train in Raleigh from then on. Today two Amtrak trains pass through Apex each day, one in early morning and one around 11:00 PM at night, but stops are not made. Several freight trains pass through town each day and rail activity is evident during the work week. Our rail provider is now CSX and for those who remember the past - there has been much change.
During World Wars I and II, Troop trains were stopping regularly and some young ladies in town would meet the trains with "care packages" and notes - yes, some troop train relationships grew into marriages.
Many train car loads of lumber, pulp wood and other forest products were shipped from Apex. The last of these shippers was Mr. Tom Womble, a former freight depot agent.
The 1914 Depot remains a focal point in downtown Apex. When no longer used as a passenger station the Apex Community Library was moved from the R. C. Sears building on North Salem Street to the Depot. Mrs. Margaret Ferry was chairperson of the board and along with Mr. and Mrs. Dewey Powell mustered community support to make it possible to use the Depot as a library. 1973 marked a great contribution to the town and neighboring communities. Miss Rachel Lewter served as the librian and led the library growth into what is now the Eva Perry Regional Library. The completion of a new Perry Library building left the Depot vacant again... this time many groups, individuals and organizations made their desires known to the town commissioners; however the Apex Chamber of Commerce came out the winner and moved their offices into the building.
Today the 1914 Depot houses the Chamber of Commerce, meeting rooms for the community and serves as our visitor center. The building is a Wake County Landmark and is listed as a contributing structure on the National Register of Historic Places, the designation as follows:
CS2. [Apex Union Depot] 1914. NR 1988. This is the most significant landmark in Apex, because it embodies Apex's reason for establishment in 1873 as a stop on the Chatham Railroad. The eclectic style depot is a one story brick building with a bellcast hip roof, a broad overhang with chamfered brackets, and three interior chimneys. The walls are dark red brick veneer and trim is of brown sandstone. All openings have segmentally-arched heads and nearly all sash and doors are original. The interior is equally intact, with toungue-and-groove wainscots, molded trim and three neoclassical style mantels. The original floor plan with its racially segregated waiting rooms and restrooms is still in place. The Depot was designed by the Seaboard Railway home office in Norfolk, Virginia to replace the earlier station destroyed by fire. It served both the Seaboard Air Line Railway and the Durham and Southern Railroad. In 1970 it was converted to the public library.
C53. Seaboard Air Line Railroad Tracks. 1869, with later upgrading. These railroad tracks, now owned by CSX Transportation, are a significant and contributing feature of the Apex Historic District because they were the reason for the town's establishment and its lifeblood.