Longtime restaurant near donated railcar demolished

The Vic Stewart Restaurant after demolition with train car exposed.

Demolition of the award-winning Walnut Creek steakhouse, Vic Stewart’s, has been underway, but the rail car that has been donated to the Martinez Historical Society is being protected, Society President John Curtis said.

Contractors started the demolition right by the rail car, which is between South Broadway and Iron Horse Trail, he said. “The car itself is covered with plywood and plastic to provide protection for it as demolition proceeds.”

The historic Walnut Creek depot, built in 1891, moved later to its current site and made part of the restaurant site will be preserved. The rest is making way for new development, Curtis said earlier.

It is because of these changes that the historical society was given the rail car by the restaurant’s owner, John S. Herrington. And that’s led to the crowdfunding money raiser the historical society is using to underwrite the move of the rail car to Martinez.

With the removal of much of the building, the rail car is more exposed, Curtis said.

“The train car hauler has the challenge of moving the train car without damaging the remaining Old Walnut Creek Train Station on the left, the concrete block wall along the Iron Horse Trail on the right and the PG&E transformer box to the south,” he said.

That transformer box isn’t expected to be an impediment when the utility company said it would be moving the box this month. But that has been changed to June, forcing the hauler to review the car’s situation.

While the restaurant had been removed from the transformer for a while, the utility discovered two other customers obtain power from the box.

“They, of course, can’t do without electricity for the next six months, so PG&E must reroute power to them from another source before the transformer can be de-energized and removed,” Curtis said.

Recent rains have affected the site, although straw wattle has been put in place to filter silt out of rainwater that runs over bare ground now that sidewalks have been removed, he said.

Meanwhile, more importantly, the historical society is continuing with its GoFundMe crowdfunding effort, available online at https://www.gofundme.com/MoveTheTrainCar.

As of earlier this week, contributors have given $3,165, Curtis said.

“This is the Society’s first foray into crowdfunding, so there is a learning curve,” he said. “For example, we just learned about ‘updates.’”

Under the main photograph on the Society’s GoFundMe page are two tabs, one that has the original story of the Society’s goals, and the other tab for updates. Curtis said the first update has been posted, and volunteers plan to do this at least twice a week to keep donors and others informed.

“We would like people to know that they can also donate in the conventional way, by mailing a check to the Martinez Historical Society at P.O. Box 14 in Martinez,” he said.

Then there’s the Martinez Museum, 1005 Escobar St.

“We’ve had people show up at the Martinez Museum with checkbook in hand, asking if they could donate the traditional way,” Curtis said.

“And the answer is ‘Yes!’”

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