In the 1990’s, our museum was fortunate enough to be able to purchase the former Chase Nursery Office building located at 708 Chase Road. Although the building (built in 1920) was in need of much repair, it would allow the museum a large amount of storage space as well as space for museum meetings and general office use. This building was the main office for what was at one time one of the largest nurseries in the southeast. The Chase Nursery provided flowers and live plants to much of the eastern US via refrigerated railway cars from their own company sidings on the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis and Southern Railroads. The nursery ran from 1882 till 1993 and was a massive operation that encompassed over 1,500 acres and employed hundreds of workers over the years. It was set up in the same manner as many of the southern mill towns of the same era (1880-1930’s). It had a “company store”, infirmary, and a small village with housing for the workers on the south side of what is now Norfolk Southern Railway. Those buildings are gone, the warehouse building is falling down, and soon only the depot and office building will remain. The building housed a large safe where the payroll was kept and a small access window can still be seen where the nursery workers were slipped their modest checks. The largest repair associated with this building was the removal of a delicately beautiful, but leaky, Spanish style ceramic tile roof. The tile roof was replaced by a modern contemporary style metal roof. This was accomplished through the dedicated work of museum volunteers and we are happy to report that the building now stays high and dry. The building also has a full basement that allows even more storage for seasonal use and other items.
In the early 2000’s, the library was moved from a small room in the Chase Depot to a larger room in the office building. This has been accomplished and the library is now open for museum members to enjoy. The library contains numerous railroad related books, technical manuals, video tapes and other media that can be checked out. Reference books may be viewed on the premises only.
Very recently the Chase Nursery Office building was renamed the Hugh Dudley Railroad History Center in honor of one of the museum’s founding members. The Dudley Center houses many railroad displays, including several types of railroad lanterns, bells, signs and signals and is usually open on days that we have train rides. If you are interested in taking the self-guided walking tour please follow this link. Please note, the museum will occasionally be closed to the general public for private events, we apologize for any inconvenience this might cause.