FOLEY – A replica of a historic Foley landmark will be joining the city’s model railroad exhibit at the Depot Museum.
For the last several months, members of Foley’s Caboose Club have been designing and building a scale replica of the Foley Hotel building to be used in the museum’s model railroad exhibit. The model is sized to fit the O scale model train display in the museum.
The hotel, which today is often referred to as the Stacey Drugstore building, opened in 1927. The model depicts the hotel in 1933, the year Robert Stacey purchased and renamed the J.T. Dumas Drugstore in the downstairs corner of the building.
The model railroad display began about 16 years ago when an extension was added to the 1909 depot that is used as a museum and city archive building. At first, the buildings were unspecific models of structures.
Caboose Club members later decided to start adding buildings that are found in downtown Foley. The first model was a recreation of the historic depot.
Club member Bob Irwin said the inspiration for the latest building came when he found an old postcard of the hotel from the 1940s.
“It all started with this postcard that I bought on ebay. I’ve lived here all my life and we just decided we ought to have a few buildings that represent some of the buildings in Foley. So we went to work,” Irwin said. “It looks pretty much today like it did then except for a few signs.”
Members measured the hotel building, which still stands at the corner of Alston Street and West Laurel Avenue, U.S. 98. They studied old photographs to determine what signs adorned the building in 1933. Small LED lights were installed to illuminate windows.
Member Robert “Doc” Holiday pointed out the signs marking businesses from Foley’s past.
“It was May’s grocery store, the Palm Theater,” Holiday said. There was a barber shop and the drug store and it just kept developing over the years, but it opened with 50 rooms with baths and that was a big deal. Western Union was a big deal. You take a look at this and look at the design and features, the special characters and things they put in, the filigree on the signs and you wonder how in 1926 a bunch of immigrants from the North came down here and had the strength and sensitivity to put up a building like that that’s still gorgeous today. It would have been so simple to put up some timbers and put a roof on it and call it a hotel. But that is just a magnificent building.”
Other Caboose Club members who worked on the project included Alton McCullough, Elliott Thomas and Mike Allmon.
The model railroad exhibit is owned by the city of Foley as part of the Depot Museum. Members of the Caboose Club operate the trains as a free display for visitors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The Depot Museum is located on 125 East Laurel Avenue in Foley. It is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.