City Cancels Depot Lease, Asks for New Lease

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City Cancels Depot Lease, Asks for New Lease

Shawnee, Oklahoma, March 18, 2024 – As excited as the City of Shawnee was to announce the start of construction for the exterior rehabilitation of the historic Santa Fe Depot, City officials were shocked in equal measure to find that the Pottawatomie County Historical Society had failed to insure the Depot against losses and damages in a significant breach of the existing Depot lease agreement.

Since 1978, the City of Shawnee and the Pottawatomie County Historical Society had been in partnership through mutual approval of sequential Depot lease agreements. These leases provided the Historical Society with the opportunity to use the Santa Fe Depot for the purpose of operating a historical museum.

The most recent lease agreement was executed on July 20, 1998. This lease calls for the City of Shawnee to maintain the property; in 2018, City administrators asked voters to approve a half-cent sales tax that, over time, began collecting needed funds for significant rehabilitation activities. The related Depot restoration recently began after the City was able to set aside $1.4 million for the first phase of the project. In addition, this lease requires that the Historical Society keep the Santa Fe Depot building insured with coverage against fires, windstorms, tornadoes, or other losses.

Most recently, the City and the Historical Society discussed the protection of personal effects and railroad artifacts, which the Historical Society had requested to leave in the building during construction. While the City and the Historical Society were negotiating a related waiver of liability, City officials discovered that the Historical Society had not provided loss and damage insurance for the Depot as required by the lease. Immediately following this discovery, City officials ensured that the City had extended adequate coverage to protect the nationally listed, historic Depot building from any losses or damages.

The City of Shawnee understands the profound significance the Santa Fe Depot has to the community and is committed to its preservation. The community’s deep connection to the Depot’s conservation was highlighted through the feedback and ideas shared throughout the visioning process for the Depot’s future. With this insight, City of Shawnee elected officials and staff have invited the Historical Society to discuss a new lease agreement. City officials remain committed the long-term viability of this community treasure.

To learn more about the Depot’s rich history, future vision, or to view updates on its restoration, please visit or contact Andrea Weckmueller-Behringer, City Manager, at (405) 878-1601 or at