And inside those doors, even more renovations have been made to the historic building owned by the city, which has been under renovation since April 2008, mostly through the efforts of volunteers and suppliers who aren't too worried about turning a profit on the job. The restoration likely couldn't have happened without them.
In the north end of the building there's now a working kitchen and bathrooms, as well as office space for Jacksonville's Retired Seniors Volunteer Program. Other than laying the carpet, the work in that section is pretty much complete, said Earl Poore, the volunteer project director for the renovations.
The remainder of the interior of the single-story section of the building, which Poore refers to as "the great room," is also close to completion. This room will be used as a welcome center and pit stop for riders on the Chief Ladiga Trail and will be rented out for meetings, receptions and weddings.
"We're about 70 percent finished with the interior," Poore said. "It's been a labor of love."
In the great room, new chandeliers, pendant lights and ceiling fans hang from the 16-foot-high exposed beams. New windows have been mounted and trimmed, and await staining. The hardwood floors will be laid after the doors are trimmed and the heating and air conditioning installation is complete.
But much of the "new" material isn't new at all, Poore said. The trim on the windows is made from the soffits, and the new hardwood floor planks have been reconstructed from the original floors. The large double cargo doors, which can now only be seen from inside the great room, will be repurposed as motorized outdoor shutters to protect the windows. Cabinets made from repurposed lumber will eventually adorn the walls.
Reusing the old materials serves two purposes: It helps keep the historic integrity of the building, and it helps save on costs for lumber.
After receiving a renovation bid of $955,000 in 2006, which the city was unable to afford, Jacksonville Mayor Johnny Smith and Poore decided to rely on volunteer efforts to complete the project. To date, the city has put a little more than $150,000 into the building, Smith said, and has about $70,000 budgeted to spend.
"We've had some great help," Smith said Friday at the renovation site. "It's not as fast as I'd like it to be, but considering it's done with volunteer help … This is truly a community project."
Since suppliers have been giving good deals and most of the work is free labor by volunteers, it's hard to plan a budget or time frame for completion, but Smith estimates a cost of an additional $75,000-$100,000.
That amount doesn't include some outstanding costs. Smith and Poore expected to settle the bids for materials for the platform entrance Friday. They also haven't paid the company that's installing the heating and air conditioning.
"The big thing is the parking lot," Smith said. "We're actually pretty close if we could get some things to fall into place."
If the volunteer work keeps up and money can be found, Smith hopes to have the entire project completed by next summer.
So far, the volunteer efforts have been great, Poore said. There has been some down time, but one day there were 10 people doing electric work. City employees spread gravel around the building in preparation for construction of the platform entrance Friday afternoon. If the good weather holds up, work on that may begin as early as next week, Poore said.
Once renovations are complete on the single-story section of the building, the city will consider work on the two-story south end of the building, which was heavily damaged by fire years ago. Ideally, that section would hold a museum, as well as a few offices that could be rented out, Poore said.
But for now, Poore and Smith are concentrating their efforts elsewhere, like recruiting more volunteers to get the job at hand done.
"We'd be happy if anybody had some carpenter experience or just time to stain or drive nails," Smith said. "Any kind of donations would be great, too."
Along with volunteers, Poore is looking for photos of the original depot. Anyone with information can call him at 282-8759.