BOM Bank wins bid for Train Depot rehabilitation project

From left are Blaise LaCour, Councilwoman Rosemary Elie, Councilman Christopher Petite, Katrice Below, Sylvia Davenport, Councilwoman-at-Large Betty Sawyer-Smith, Ken Hale, Mayor Ronnie Williams, Mary Bullock, Reba Phelps, Tyler Murchison, Kathy Myers, Craig George, Councilman Dale Nielsen, Carrie Hough and Alana Abels.

BOM Bank has received the bid to fund a $2 million loan for the City of Natchitoches’ Train Depot Rehabilitation Project.

The City of Natchitoches, Cane River National Heritage Area (CRNHA), Cane River Creole National Historical Park (CRNHP) and DSW Construction hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Depot Rehabilitation Project Jan. 13.

The Texas and Pacific Railway Depot was constructed in 1927 and closed its doors to passenger rail transportation in the 1960s, encapsulating its segregated entrances and waiting rooms. Today, the structure remains one of the last segregated train stations within Louisiana and has a deep connection to the City’s African American community.

“For nearly four decades the community of Natchitoches has tried to preserve and rehabilitate the Depot into a museum that depicts the stories of African Americans in Natchitoches,” said Rebecca Blankenbaker, executive director of CRNHA.

Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. said, “The city is thrilled to partner with the BOM, a community-centered local bank, on the renovation of the train depot. The depot project will have a substantial impact not just on West Natchitoches but on the entire Natchitoches community.”

BOM President and CEO Ken Hale said, “BOM Bank is excited to embark on this project with the City of Natchitoches for the rehabilitation project and to encourage economic development in West Natchitoches.”

The Depot will house new offices for the National Park Service, a visitor center and a community lecture hall/theater for the CRNHP. Blankenbaker said, “The train depot will depict the African American experience of Natchitoches and Cane River while the park downriver at Oakland and Magnolia explores their experiences from slavery to sharecropping and tenant farming. The depot will discuss topics of segregation, civil rights and the great migration to larger cities conveying full African American experience from slavery to civil rights to today.”