“All aboard” was the call of the brakeman beckoning members of the Ellis County Museum Board, welcoming them to the platform of the D and P (David and Paula) Railroad for a fundraising party for the museum’s building restoration.
The railroad is actually the home of David and Paula Hudgins and their restored 1926 Pullman rail car.
“We’re so grateful for the Hudgins opening up their home and the rail car for our Wine and Hors D’ Oeuvres on the Mississippi Shoo Fly,” said museum board chairman Glenda Felty.
The Hudgins home in Waxahachie is designed as a recreation of a vintage rail station. For Sunday’s fundraiser, they opened their restored rail car for tours.
“We’re really glad to share our place to help the museum,” said Paula.
The Hudgins place is a museum it’s self.
“Railroads have always been a passion of David’s since he was a youth,” Paula said.
“I remember as a youth, my mom took us on a railroad ride for my birthday. We had decorations and a cake. It was during a time when army soldiers rode the train from post to post. They joined in our party with the favors mom had and we shared my cake with them,” David explained. “When we decided to add a rail car to the place I wanted a private car, something more than a passenger car.”
David and Paula first flew to Richmond, Va. to look at a car.
“It had a lot of problems and I decided it was more than I wanted to take on. But we learned of a broker in San Antonio who had some cars,” he said.
Arriving in San Antonio, the Hudgins found their car; a 1926 Pullman Business Car built by the Pullman Standard Company.
The car features as full kitchen including a wood burning stove, two bedrooms, full dinning room, a secretary’s office and bedroom, and a back porch.
“In its day this was the corporate jet of its time,” David said.
Hudgins’ car began its journey to Waxahachie in 2003 when they purchased it.
“When we got it up here it was parked it on the old rail siding beside the ball park,” he said
While on the siding David finished the preparation of his own siding, just off the platform behind his home.
When the rails were in place where the 200,000 pound car would finally rest, he made arrangements to move it close to his place.
“I got a call one day from someone saying my rail car was gone. I figured the mover had come to bring it home,” David said.
Since placing it at the “D and P” rail siding, David has been busy doing the final restoration and adding the accessories that would have been typical of the days the car was in use.
The kitchen is complete with its wood stove and a cabinet full of items such as a loaf of Pullman enriched white bread. The dinning room table is set to period silverware, linen napkins and china.
“A lot of these artifacts have been given to us over the years and we have bought some as we run across them,” he said.
“During this restoration, David has been very detailed trying to get the interior of the car as close to the way it was when it was in operation,” Paula added.
The car has not been the Huggins only focus. Building the home and making their back porch to be like a rail dock, complete with tool carts and signs typical of an old rail station have also been part of the process.
“The one thing I wanted was a hot tub. David said it wouldn’t fit in with the railroad theme. We compromised with a water tower above the patio.” Paula said. “When David is finished with the Pullman, I’m hoping for a box car or a mail car to put in front of it. With a car like that we can keep it original on the outside and make it a party room inside.
Sunday evening’s social event was a fundraiser to raise the needed funds to replace 49 windows in the museum’s building.
“We have 49 windows that need replacing in the museum building. We are hoping to raise around $3,000 from today’s event,” Felty said.
The museum board plans several other fundraising through the fall.
“People think because our name is Ellis County Museum we get funding from the county. We get nothing from the county. We are soley supported by membership dues, private donations and endowments,” Felty said.