March 23, 2015

All Aboard! Check Out These Train Depots-Turned-Restaurants

  • By: Jamesha Gibson

The Fullerton Union Pacific Station now houses The Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant.

In the Spring 2015 issue of Preservation, we feature three train depots-turned-restaurants. Now, we’ve rounded up three more transformed train depots that are sure to supply the tasty ticket for your taste buds.

The Old Spaghetti Factory at the Fullerton Union Pacific Depot

110 E. Santa Fe Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832
$$ | Italian

Originally located across the street at 109 W. Truslow Ave., the Fullerton Union Pacific Railroad Depot was built by the Union Pacific Railroad company in 1923. Constructed in the Mission Revival Style, this structure consists of two sections. The first is the more ornate passenger section that boasts an octagonal domed drum with a cupola, as well as two Mission-Style parapets on either end of the main gabled roof and a stepped parapet at the main entrance that combines the zigzag Moderne and Mission Revival Styles.

The second, less adorned section is the freight operations room. This section’s flat-pitched gable roof was reinforced by exposed wood trusses. Both sides of this section were once complimented by a wooden loading platform.

In 1980, the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency prevented the depot’s demolition by relocating it to its current location on East Santa Fe Avenue and re-purposing it as The Old Spaghetti Factory. Though there were some renovations, the original architectural features remained, and the restaurant added its signature furnishings, including an old-fashioned trolley car that doubles as a dining hall to set the bygone-railroad-era atmosphere.

The Old Spaghetti Factory’s menu items are all made from scratch and on-location for an authentic Italian-American cuisine experience. The restaurant offers its famous three-course meal, which provides unlimited fresh baked bread, soup or salad, and a dessert with all entrées. The most popular entrée is spaghetti covered in The Old Spaghetti Factory’s legendary Mizithra cheese and browned butter.


Porters retains many historic architectural features including the 100-year-old hand-hewn bricks bearing "railroad graffiti."

147 N. Front St
Medford, OR 97501
$$ | American

Named to pay homage to the men and women who work on passenger trains and assist patrons with courtesy and a smile, Porters offers classic American cuisine with service just as friendly as its namesake.

Before it was a restaurant, Porters was the Medford depot, built in 1910 by Edward Harriman, president of the Southern Pacific Railroad. One year earlier, Harriman had visited Medford and was so impressed by the flourishing town that he decided to build a depot to match the area’s expected growth.

Though the town’s boom did not last and population growth stalled, the depot continued to be used. After 20 years, railroad service declined as the Great Depression set in and, afterwards, automobile travel became more popular. By 1955, passenger service had ceased at Medford depot; for the next 41 years, it was virtually abandoned.

Now, the Medford depot has been transformed into Porters Restaurant and Bar. Though renovated, the depot still holds original architectural features such as the large wooden beams, hand-chiseled exterior granite corbels, and the 100-year-old hand-hewn bricks bearing “railroad graffiti.” Porters’ tasty fare includes salad, soup, seafood, steak, and burgers.

Liberty Station

Liberty Station is home to Harry Leist's Famous Cheesecakes.

515 Bedford Ave.
Bedford, VA 24523
$$ | American

The Bedford train depot was built in 1891. Designed by Philadelphia architect George T. Pearson, the building’s exterior was composed of large, chiseled stone blocks and a slate roof. The depot’s windows were fitted with yellow bull’s eye glass, and it had two massive doors to allow access to moving freight trains.

After its move closer to town in 1907, the Bedford depot became a hub of activity for the small community. Passenger and freight services flourished throughout the 1920s and into the 1940s. During World War II, the Bedford depot was used to transport supplies, ammunition, and troops. It was from this station that the men of the 116th Infantry, revered today by the town as the Bedford Boys, left for war.

In 1971, the Bedford train depot ceased passenger railway services. Two restaurants occupied the depot in the subsequent two decades until the Leist family opened a third, Liberty Station, in 2001. This family-owned enterprise serves American cuisine ranging from crab dip to cheeseburgers. And for dessert, indulge in a slice of one of Harry Leist’s Famous Cheesecakes.

$ = Value, $10-19 per person
$$ = Moderate, $20-29 per person
$$$ = Expensive, $30-39 per person
$$$$ = Splurge, $40+ per person

Jamesha Gibson is an Editorial Intern at the National Trust. She is passionate about using historic preservation as an avenue for underrepresented communities to share their unique stories. Jamesha also enjoys learning about other cultures through reading, art, language, dancing, and especially cuisine.

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