After being pummeled by both Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta, the 105-year-old Southern Pacific Railroad Depot that housed the Brimstone Museum was deemed too structurally unsound to repair by the museum’s board.
It was demolished late last month, leaving a void in the Henning Cultural Center complex at the intersection of Ruth and Cypress streets.
The depot was transformed in 1975 into the Brimstone Museum by the Brimstone Historical Society and had since displayed exhibits showcasing the rich history of Sulphur as well as the men and women who contributed to it.
In a letter to the community, the Brimstone Historical Society explained their decision to demolish. The letter states that the integrity of the museum, which had been moved twice and survived multiple hurricanes, was destabilized.
During Hurricane Laura the roof was torn off the depot and the foundation shifted. The winds from Hurricane Delta caused even more damage.
The museum’s executive director Thom Trahan said that after consultation with insurance providers, architects, structural engineers, and contractors, it was determined that the structure was too damaged to repair.
He said that though the artifacts, many of which were donated, housed in the upstairs archives didn’t hold much monetary value, they were priceless as sentimental and historic objects. “These are items that cannot be replaced,” Trahan said.
Though nearly all of the photos in the museum’s collections were digitized, many of the original historic photos and artifacts were lost to the elements. The artifacts that did survive will be used in future displays. And the 3,000-pound block of sulfur that once sat proudly near the entrance to the depot was salvaged.
“We’re still going to be having programs in the complex,” Trahan said. “We have four other buildings.”
As for the space left by the demolished depot, Trahan said the Historical Society has a rebuilding committee in place to plot a path forward.
Any future structures will be built with hurricane resistance in mind.