Museum and Event Center  
The master plan for restoration of the Rural Retreat Depot has two components. The exterior will be restored to what it was after the N&W's 1949 remodel, preserving as much of the original materials and design possible given current day environmental and safety requirements.  The Depot will be an attractive centerpiece for the Town and complement the Town's downtown restoration effort. The interior of the Depot will be renovated to create a Museum in the former waiting area, and a versatile event/meeting space in the former freight room. Every effort will be made to retain  or reuse the historic materials and design, considering that it will be necessary to install heating and air, lighting and communication systems.

The functional requirement for restoration is to allow the Depot to serve the community in the following ways and more:

1)      Community activities (family events, weddings, reunions, meetings, musical gigs, etc.)

2)      Health & Wellness – continue to grow our Farmers Market as a venue to promote the production and consumption of healthy locally grown and organic foods and it’s positive impact on entrepreneurism of local vendors. We are currently working with the Department of Health to provide screening and other health related services.

3)      Education will be a major focus. We are working with the schools so the depot becomes a venue for Learning. This includes a partnership with the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology (ICAT) and the Center for Arts at Va. Tech. This could be a great opportunity to “stream” programs and events electronically from Va. Tech directly to the Depot which could be used to help students in kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education environments to succeed in the world today that demands teamwork and collaboration of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) disciplines.

4)      Help Preserve the Culture of Rural Retreat and Wythe County history. A portion of the restored depot will be a permanent museum which will display our roots – such as the cabbage capital of the world, railroad activities and the role of the depot, home of Dr Pepper, Civil War, etc.  We will also participate in a Smithsonian “Museum on Main Street” travelling exhibitions.


Thanks to the generous donations and grants from our many supporters, and to our talented local handymen and women we were able to complete the exterior renovation in 2015. With a completely new foundation, new roof, and restored and repaired exterior woodwork the Depot is no longer in constant deterioration. In fact, the Depot now shines brightly in the flat at Rural Retreat, welcoming all who pass by on Main Street. The following comparison photos show the incredible difference after restoration.
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