Community members will soon have a new place to meet in Downtown Bryan. The Gloria Stephan Sale Depot is complete and will be available for reservations next month.
To mark this addition to the Gloria Stephan Sale Park, a celebration for invited guests will be held today for those who have worked on and supported the plans for the space.
The partially glass-enclosed building on South Main Street was constructed to resemble the railroad station that stood on the property from 1900 through 1990. There is a 636-square-foot conference room that can seat about 20 people — complete with Wi-Fi connectivity and a flat-screen TV — as well as public restrooms. The open-air pavilion outside features movable tables and benches. Construction began earlier this year, and all the final inspections are being completed this week.
The landscaping, furnishings, television and security cameras cost about $35,000, Parks & Recreation Director Linda Cornelius said, while construction costs totaled about $275,000. Cornelius said that about half of the construction was paid for with funds from the Gloria Stephan Sale Bryan Beautification Trust.
“It just adds to the uniqueness of Downtown Bryan,” Cornelius said of the depot.
The trust money is used to fund various projects throughout the city, including some at the Brazos Valley African American Museum, Sue Haswell Park and the Palace Theater. Gloria Stephan Sale’s three daughters are trustees of the beautification trust who work to put funds toward such projects.
The park and new meeting room are testaments to the contributions the Sale family made to Bryan throughout the years, daughter Stephanie Sale said, but also to the former depot itself.
“It’s about preservation of our past,” she explained, “and when it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s very hard to re-create it; it’s very hard to make it as it really was. And this story of the depot, it’s almost lost as a story.”
Stephanie Sale said the glass walls used on much of the building are there both to keep the depot from impeding what people can see at the park, but also to metaphorically represent that the building is a reflection of the much larger old train station that once stood on the property.
On Friday, the city of Bryan will host its annual Lights On! ceremony, during which the Christmas tree at the park and the ones around downtown will be turned on. Sale said this will give people an opportunity to take a peek at the exterior of the depot as they gather for the event.
There are multiple types of blooming trees outside of the new depot. Stephanie Sale said the plan is for them all to bloom at different times so there is almost always a blooming tree visible from the room.
The park was completed in 2007 and dedicated and renamed after Gloria Stephan Sale in November 2008. The depot was the last major plan for the park; it adds to the existing picnic tables and splash pad at the site.
Stephanie Sale said she sees the park as a step in the continuation between Downtown Bryan and Texas A&M University. Additionally, she hopes it is a spot that can help people enjoy life and the Downtown Bryan area.
“I hope that it gives pause to stop and smell the roses,” she said.