A contractor for the city is to resume work on Tuesday refurbishing the parking lot next to the Amtrak/Santa Fe depot in East Lawrence — and the project will incorporate a large swath of historic brickwork that workers uncovered earlier this year.
The brick area, almost the size of a football field, appears to be have been part of the floor and platform of the old Santa Fe freight house that was removed from the site in the mid-20th century. The adjacent two-story Santa Fe depot was severely damaged by the great flood of 1951 and torn down.
The station was replaced by what is now the modern Amtrak depot in 1956; the freight house remained in operation a few years longer. Over the years, the brick was covered by dirt and gravel until it was rediscovered when the city began expanding the parking lot earlier this year.
To the delight of local historians, work was stopped immediately in April while the city assessed the status of the old brick and determined that it could be used as part of the surface of the new parking lot. A slash through the brickwork about 10 feet wide — the remnant of a former rail siding that cut through the site — will be filled in with similar brick but highlighted to show that aspect of the site’s history.
“The updated plans still accomplish the original goals outlined in the project, while maintaining the historic brick surface,” the city said in a statement. “Many thanks are owed to those who gave their personal time to help understand the historical aspects and give context to this unique discovery.”
The redesign to preserve the brick and provide proper drainage will require the contractor to replace an adjacent storm sewer line. The city expects the project to be completed by late October or early November.