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'Time machine' Virginia train station reopens as historic museum years after being shuttered

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Posted at 1:04 AM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 01:07:53-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Without the Lee Hall Depot, the City of Newport News might not be where it is today.

“It really shows the transition of Newport News from an agrarian community to the industrialized city it is today,” Newport News historian J. Michael Moore said.

The yellow station house may be old, but it recently received a face lift thanks to a project that lasted roughly 20 years. The efforts of the City and the Lee Hall Train Station Foundation made it possible.

"This museum is really symbolic of small depots across the country that led our country into an economic age,” Madeline McMillan, former president of the foundation, said.

It cost roughly $5 million to rehabilitate the entire depot, both the outside and the inside. The work was made possible by grants, some of which came from the federal government.

The current location of the station house was not where it originally stood. Mary Kayaselcuk, the Lee Hall Depot’s site coordinator, explained how in 2009 the station house was moved from its original location just opposite the still-active railroad tracks.

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Next to the depot is a 250-foot display track and signal lights on the south end of the depot. Even though a lot of work has been done, there is still more to do.

"This will be a rail heritage museum of how rail service impacted rural Warwick County,” Kayaselcuk said. “There were originally five stations here and Lee Hall is the only one left."

The Lee Hall Depot dates back to 1881. It was served by the former Chesapeake and Ohio Railway providing freight and passenger service.

Walk inside and visitors will notice the age.

"It's almost like a time machine, you're seeing a window in time,” Moore said. “You're looking at the technology because you can only imagine what it's like to run one of these."

The Lee Hall Depot is offering free “sneak preview” tours every Saturday in June. Tickets are needed ahead of time and available times and tickets can be found by clicking here.

Starting in July, admission is as follows:

  • $8, adults
  • $7, seniors
  • $6, children
  • $20, households with immediate relatives.