Built in 1910, the restored Montpelier Train Depot has two entrances and two waiting rooms - one designated 'White', the other 'Colored.' It is a stark testimony to the segregation of public areas required by the Jim Crow laws enacted in Virginia and the rest of the South after the Civil War and Emancipation.

The name 'Jim Crow' refers to a cruel caricature of African Americans that surfaced in the early 1800s. Jim Crow laws were enacted in the South to supposedly create a 'separate but equal' status for African Americans. The laws mandated segregation of all public areas - train stations, restaurants, water fountains, schools, workplaces, and the military. The conditions and institutions established for African Americans were distinctly inferior to those established for whites. While Jim Crow did not exist in the North, segregation was enforced there through social and economic barriers founded in fear and discrimination.

The Montpelier Foundation restored the depot to its early 20th century appearance to document the time of segregation and the experiences of African Americans and to continue and broaden the conversation about justice and equality in America.

The Montpelier Train Depot is open daily. You can enter and explore both waiting rooms as well as the mail room and station office. Interpretive signs and audio exhibits present the history of the railway and the station as well as segregation and the Jim Crow era.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned segregation and discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, religion and gender. Yet, standing in the cramped 'Colored' waiting room, one reflects upon how much work is left to be done to ensure that equality is a reality for each and every American.

Pictured at the top: The Montpelier 1910 Train Depot.

The 'Colored' waiting room at the Montpelier 1910 Train Depot.