Choctaw Freight Depot

From FranaWiki

The Choctaw Freight Depot was a companion structure to the Choctaw Railway Station on the grounds of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park. The Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf Railroad operated the freight depot. The depot was constructed by freed African American slaves under the direction of Charles W. Clark, owner of the Clark Pressed Brick Company in Malvern, and opened to deliveries on April 9, 1900. The depot measured 40 feet by 215 feet in length and had an attached 15 foot platform for loading goods into wagons and trucks. The freight depot was separated from the passenger station by several sets of tracks.

The Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf soon found itself party to a hostile takeover, and in 1904 the freight warehouse along with the company became part of the Rock Island Railroad. In 1911 the depot was abandoned by the railroad in favor of a larger facility at the corner of East Fourth & Rector. The depot was leased in 1913 to Reaves Transfer Company, to Fisher Cement & Roofing Company in 1939, and again to May Supply Company in 1944. The Mayco Warehouse Company (as May Supply was then known) purchased the structure outright in 1961. The freight depot spent its last forty years entombed within a number of surrounding May Supply warehouses. Eugene Pfeifer III was the last owner of the site before being condemned by the City of Little Rock.

The depot was razed by the Clinton Foundation on November 21, 2001, despite a three-month effort to save the historic structure led by the Friends of the Choctaw Terminal. Little Rock preservationist Gregory Ferguson and Friends of the Choctaw Terminal complained that the Clinton Foundation and City of Little Rock had failed to fully comply with the spirit of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, which specifies a full site review where historic structures are adversely affected by projects funded with federal dollars. At the time Ferguson complained, "The national and local history contained in the Choctaw Freight Depot that was destroyed the day before Thanksgiving is irreplaceable, and Mr. Clinton knows it, but apparently doesn't care."

Ferguson was quoted in the press saying, "While I was in the process of filling out my [legal challenge], the demolition contractor's huge front-end loader machines were tearing out the heart of the Choctaw Freight Depot. ... [T]hrough this process, I was witness to some of the most underhanded, reprehensible, dirty, and immoral conduct I have ever had the misfortune to observe."

The former address of the Choctaw Freight Depot was 1115 East Second Street.


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