Southern Rail has recently renovated and re-opened the historic Carrboro train depot building adjacent to the rail cars. Dating back to 1892, this was one of the first commercial buildings in Carrboro (then known as the town of "Venable"), at a time when a flour mill, a cotton gin, a blacksmith, and a few small homes were the only other buildings that existed in town.
The site is now dubbed "the Station at Southern Rail," in homage to its original roots as the first train station in the region, as well as its more recent incarnation as a popular music venue where bands such as REM played in the 1970s-80s.
The Station has quickly become the hottest place to be in Carrboro after dark. Featuring great local and national live music, great drinks and drink specials, sports, and DJs on fridays and saturdays, and never a cover charge. On tuesdays and thursdays you might see such local talent as Squirrel Nut Zippers, Skinny Bag of Sugar, and house bands featuring members of The Old Ceremony, Max Indian, Swaso, and many more. Monday nights now feature Open Mic Night hosted by talented local musicians Jim Smith, Danny Mason and Chris Young, so bring your songs and share them with us! Check out our YouTube channel to see some videos from shows at the Station.
Perhaps the most interesting fixture in Benson's restoration of the Station is the massive hand-carved hardwood bar, which has a rich history all its own and has been lovingly refurbished by local craftsmen. The bar itself was originally created for the "Hotel Washington", built in 1917 and located directly across the street from the White House in Washington DC. The hotel is famous for its rooftop terrace looking down on the White House, and has been frequented by a diverse range of guests over the years, including Elvis Presley, Ronald Reagan, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Gere, Aretha Franklin, Charley Pride, Jodie Foster and Tom Cruise to name just a few. The hotel also served as backdrop for numerous events and films, including "The Godfather Part II" and "No Way Out".
Many luminaries have "bellied up" to the historic Station bar when it stood at the Hotel Washington during the period from 1917 to the 1950s, including Presidents, Vice Presidents (e.g., John Nance Garner, VP under F.D. Roosevelt lived in the Hotel for 9 years), cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices (e.g., Justice Frank Murphy also lived at the Hotel), and a wide array of entertainers such as John Wayne, Duke Ellington, Will Rogers, George Burns, Gracie Allen, and members of the Ziegfeld Follies cast.
When the Hotel Washington was renovated in the 1950s, the bar itself was moved several blocks away to Blackie's House of Beef, a historic Washington DC steak house. Sadly, Blackie's closed in Spring 2006, at which time Benson was able to bring the bar and other memorabilia on the journey South to their new home in Carrboro. Come see for yourself how DC's loss is Carrboro's gain!