The old depot lives again in Auburn mural

In Seattle-area artist Mira Hoke’s grand mural on the west side of the Agrishop, an old time locomotive is sidled up to the loading area of the Northern Pacific Railroad depot, later the Burlington Northern Santa Fe depot.

Is it coming or going? Doesn’t matter: it’s an eye catcher, and a brightener-up of things.

Darren Jones, owner of the Agrishop Ace Hardware store at 308 W. Main St., said the mural — which the Downtown Auburn Cooperative paid for as part of an ongoing effort to spruce up the downtown — has generated a boatload positive buzz around town and on the store’s Facebook page.

“We get a lot of compliments,” Jones said.

The depot itself was razed many years ago to make way for the present-day Sound Transit parking garage at 110 2nd St. SW in downtown Auburn. But for one member of the Jones family with a connection to the old depot, it seemed wrong to let the structure simply vanish from the public memory.

Nope. For Jack Jones, Darren Jones’ father, the old fade-to-black just would not do.

As Jones explained, his father, who used to drive a truck for Northern Pacific Transport, would sit and wait for the train to arrive at the depot so he could pick up the mail and deliver it.

Jones said his father would also cast a wishful eye on what was then Kennedy’s lawn and garden business, the predecessor to the Agrishop.

“He always wished he’d had a business like this one here,” Jones said of his father.

Funny thing about that …

“Back in 1975, Harry Kennedy used to own this place and it was called Kennedy’s,” Darren Jones said of the Agrishop building. “My father and uncle met Harry Kennedy at a business meeting, and they got to talking. One day Harry came up to my father and said, ‘I want to sell the business.’”

“I can’t afford that,” said his father. But Kennedy assured him he’d “figure something out.” And in May of 1975, Jack Jones and Darren’s uncle Will Ellison bought Kennedy’s, and it became the Agrishop.

“The whole idea of the mural came about because dad would sit here and say, ‘Gosh, the old depot’s gone we should have a mural or some kind of picture of the old depot there so people remember what it was like.’”

Funny thing about that, too.

Because while Jones Sr. was cogitating about a mural to keep the memory of the old depot alive, the Downtown Auburn Cooperative began looking for business owners who’d be willing to have a mural painted on their building.

“I volunteered this building and gave them the whole story about my father, and we found that picture through the archives that the mural is based on,” said Darren Jones.

Cheryl Rakes, director of the Downtown Auburn Co0perative, found her artist, Mira Hoke, at the recent Hops and Crops festival through a mutual friend.

This eye-catching mural of a girl under umbrella graces the outer brick wall of G Street Legal on A St. SE.

This eye-catching mural of a girl under umbrella graces the outer brick wall of G Street Legal on A St. SE.

The first mural was the girl under umbrella mural on A Street Legal Services, Inc., at 6 A St. SE.

“Now that we’re getting the arts and cultural center, we wanted to bring more art downtown,” Rakes explained. “We plan on doing more murals when the weather’s decent, but we had to start with those two, and we ran out of time before the weather changed. We’re managing the program. The owner of the building picks the subject of the painting.”

How many more murals can Auburn expect?

“That depends on how many more business owners will let us do it. I haven’t advertised any more for right now because I want to wait until spring time,” said Rakes.

The Auburn Reporter reached out to Mira Hoke for comment, but as of press time Tuesday afternoon, she had not responded.