By Sarah Plummer
The White Oak Railroad Depot in Oak Hill is about to undergo a transformation that will marry its railroad history with southern West Virginia’s artisans, who are preserving the trades of the past.
Susan Craun, secretary of the White Oak Chapter of the National Railroad Society, announced the White Oak Depot will become the White Oak Depot Artisan Gallery and Heritage Center, showcasing handicrafts from across the region and offering the public live music and artist demonstrations throughout the coming months.
The gallery will kick off with a ribbon cutting at 1 p.m. on May 4, followed by the creation of a chain saw sculpture and bluegrass music from the Valley Bluegrass Band until 5 p.m.
So far 15 artisans, including several Tamarack artists, have been inducted into the gallery and there are room for 15 more.
Artisans from across the state can be juried into the gallery but first preference goes to artisans in southern West Virginia.
In addition to overhauling the scope of the depot, Craun said the depot is receiving some much-needed care for it to act as a half-way point along the White Oak Rail Trail.
Recently the group received a $5,000 grant from the Coal Heritage Authority to help put in a handicap accessible restroom for those walking the trail, and a dog watering station is being installed along with additional landscaping and seating, she said.
After the grand opening on May 4, the new Artisan Gallery will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and until 7 p.m. after Memorial Day as long as weather permits.
The Depot will also host, as interest swells, blacksmithing and woodworking classes as well as artist demonstrations.
Those interested in having their artwork juried should e-mail the group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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