Mural enhances historic depot

Joe Grimes stands beside a mural on the historic Grifton Depot Station.

GRIFTON — Another tribute to the past is being added to the already-historic Depot Station in Grifton by local artist Joe Grimes.

Grimes has resided in Grifton for 24 years with his wife, Jewell, a Grifton native. He has been painting for more than 60 years of his life and has a degree in art education from East Carolina University.

This is not the first time Grimes has completed an art project for the town. He and his wife recently completed a mural on the building that houses the Grifton Police Department.

After completing the mural, Joe received a call from Mark Warren, Grifton’s town manager, to inquire about painting the logo of the Atlantic Coastline on the Depot’s side windows.

“It’s a historical reference to the depot. It puts a name to the place. It’s the logo they had during that time (it was operational),” Grimes said.

The Atlantic Coastline Logo consists of a white circle outlined by black and green lines. The words Atlantic Coast Line are displayed in the center with prominent red lettering and the railway’s destinations of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida and Alabama are showcased on an inner band of the circle.

Grimes was provided with the original logo by the town, and recreated it on the window using a freehand technique and acrylic paint that is specifically designed for glass.

The painting helps to tell the depot’s story, Grimes said.

The depot was constructed on Main Street in 1920, after the 1889 depot station burned down. J.R. Harvey donated the land on which the station stands.

The depot has served as passenger freight faculty, a freight station, a potato and cucumber grading center and as a fertilizer storage and office facility by Smith-Douglas Fertilizer Company.

In 1982, the depot had been abandoned and the Grifton Chamber of Commerce began to advocate that it be used as a meeting place.

Four years later, the railroad agreed to give the Grifton the depot and lease the land to the town, on the condition that the town erect a fence, supply an appraisal and provide insurance for the structure.

With the help of donations from individuals and businesses, the depot was restored in three phases to reflect its former glory.

Today, the building is used for family and class reunions, wedding receptions, religious functions and town events. A portion of the Depot is undergoing renovations.

Since beginning the project, Grimes has had people stop by the depot to see the logo. Many shared stories of the building when it was full of live as an active station, he said.

Adding to the history of the town and depot gives Grimes a proud feeling.

“It makes me feel proud. I live here and I’ve always liked antique stuff,” Grimes said.

Jewell Grimes added, “I grew up here and it’s cool to give back to the town. I love Grifton. It’s been through a lot with all the hurricanes and stores closing. (Revitalization efforts) have given people hope. It’s exciting to see that.”

COVID-19 and rain delayed the project to some extent, but Grimes hopes to have both logos completed in the upcoming weeks.

“We are happy to have them as part of our community and be a part of our revitalization efforts,” Warren said. “I think many more organizations and citizens will find Grifton a most cost-effective destination to do business and live.”

Contact Donna Marie Williams at dwilliams@ncweeklies.com.