Josh Minor is enthusiastic about Richmond, Indiana’s Historic Depot District.
“It’s kind of like a street fair but all year long,” he said after searching several minutes for just the right description.
“It’s a mixture,” said Minor. “You have a little bit of everything.”
The four-block area is packed with things to see, do, eat and drink. The vast majority of neighborhood businesses are locally owned and most are housed in buildings dating from the late 1800s – hence its “historic” designation on the National Register.
Needless to say, as transportation trends changed, the district fell on hard times. Freight trains still rumble through several times a day, but the area went downhill after the depot closed in the 1970s.
“I remember growing up that this was a part of town that you stayed away from,” said Zack Parker, now co-owner of Roscoe’s Coffee Bar & Tap Room on Fort Wayne Avenue.
What the neighborhood had going for it was the depot itself, which remained beautiful even as it slowly deteriorated. After previous attempts at restoration stalled, the depot was purchased by Roger and Theresa Richert of Richmond Furniture Gallery, who stabilized it and began looking for tenants. By the early 2000s, restaurants and shops were opening nearby.
The depot is now home to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and the Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County. Longtime neighborhood anchor Little Sheba’s has been joined by Firehouse BBQ & Blues, New Boswell Brewery & Tap Room, The Cordial Cork and Americana Pizza as sit-down restaurants (all with family dining available). Roscoe’s serves sandwiches and snacks as well as coffee and beer. Ullery’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream parlor is the bricks-and-mortar location of a longtime regional fair and festival favorite. You can pick up cupcakes and cookies at Gigglebox Sweets or enjoy a hot cup of tea at The Two Sisters Books & More.
In fact, a number of the retail stores offer a little something extra for their customers.
Vehicle lovers of all ages will enjoy exploring the Model T Ford Club of America Museum, which features a showroom and garage as well as displays of the myriad uses folks made of the classic car. “It changed people lives,” said Executive Director Susan Yaeger.
Or walk down the street to Paint the Towne, where adults and kids can decorate their own pottery or do crafts together.
“There’s always something to do down here,” said Natalie Ripperger, co-owner of Richmond Furniture Gallery.
Ripperger and her husband like to have weekend brunch at The Cordial Cork. “I feel like I’m on vacation somewhere,” she said. They also enjoy date nights at one of the many places that offer live music – most of the eateries mentioned above, plus the E Street Pub.
After dark on Friday and Saturday nights, “you can hear music coming from all directions,” said Minor.
“There’s lots of night life,” agreed Donald Harrison, owner of Block Head Records, which sells new and used vinyl and CDs. Harrison opens his shop evenings from Wednesday through Friday. The only time he’s open during the day is Saturday afternoon.
Jackson Cook of JC’s Billiards said he never really considered setting up his smoke-free pool hall anywhere else. The hall is divided into two rooms, one for adults (beer is served) and the other where families can play together. Weeknights are for league play and there are tournaments every weekend. Cook is considering adding a kids’ league in the new year.
Prefer to play pool in a more traditional barroom atmosphere? No problem. Head to D&R’s Hideaway on North E Street.
“It really is a community,” said Minor.
Also in the district: Leaning Lily florist, Meng’s Martial Arts, Rare Breed Fitness (spring shoe exercise), Journey Yoga, Metamorphosis Day Spa, Studio B Brows, Luxe Lizzies boutique, Good Life Wellness, Stephanie Harrison Photography, and Lindsey Photographers.
No matter what your shopping preferences are, you're bound to find something to enjoy in the Depot District.