This one-story brick building in Lake City was built in 1913 as a passenger and freight depot. Tracks were first laid in Lake City in 1856 by the Northeastern Railroad, boosting commerce in this prolific farming town. By the early twentieth century, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad owned and operated the tracks, adding this depot.
Lake City was a busy stop along the railroad, transporting produce and tobacco grown in the Pee Dee town to markets far and wide. In the early twentieth century, the agricultural community of Lake City was said to grow the most diverse crops in both of the Carolinas combined. When the Bean Market was built in 1936, it was the largest green bean auction center in the world.
Though the depot no longer serves passengers or carries freight, guests continue to watch trains roll by from the Railway Restaurant, which sits behind the brick building.
Twenty-five trains now pass through Lake City on the historic tracks currently owned and operated by CSX Railroad. Today the city’s business community meets in the former depot, which now serves as offices for the Lake City Chamber of Commerce.
The Lake City Depot is listed in the National Register as the Atlantic Coast Railroad Depot within the Lake City Downtown Historic District:
The Lake City Downtown Historic District is a collection of sixty-two commercial buildings, forty-four of which are contributing to the character of the district, which illustrate the commercial development of the town between roughly 1910 and 1930. The district’s buildings reflect the one- and two-part commercial blocks found in towns throughout the nation, and represent stylistic influences ranging from the late Victorian period examples displaying elaborate brick corbeled cornices and pediments to the more simplified and stripped down Depression-era examples with typical low relief detailing and vertical piers. Corner stores and banks featuring either a Classical or Renaissance Revival style and the brick depot and surrounding brick warehouses help anchor the district along both the town’s Main Street and its broad intersecting railroad corridor.
Lake City once had the most diversified agricultural market in both North and South Carolina, marketing such produce as strawberries, snap peas, cucumbers, squash, limas and other assorted vegetables. From its season opening the last of April through the end of July, the city’s agricultural market sold assorted produce. From August 1st until late autumn, the area operated as the state’s second largest tobacco market. As a result of the growth of agriculture in the area in the early twentieth century, the downtown area businessmen began replacing older frame buildings with new brick structures. The success of local cash crops gave a more expendable income to the average farmer in Lake City and was extremely instrumental in changing the face of the downtown area.