Karl Komatsu, CEO of Komatsu Architecture, addresses members of the Cleburne Railroad Advisory Committee on Tuesday night. Committee members recommended Komatsu Architecture to design and help build a railroad museum in Cleburne. The recommendation requires approval by the Cleburne City Council.


Cleburne Railroad Museum Advisory Committee members on Tuesday recommended Komatsu Architecture of Fort Worth to design and oversee construction of Cleburne’s planned railroad museum.

The Johnson County 4B Economic Development Board, who met immediately after, approved the railroad committee’s recommendation, which moves on to the Cleburne City Council for final approval.

Railroad committee members, having narrowed a list of five possible architecture firm candidates, heard presentations from Komatsu and Bennett, Benner and Pettit Architects + Planners, also of Fort Worth.

Should the council approve the railroad committee and 4B’s recommendation, Cleburne City Manager Rick Holden will soon begin to negotiate a contract for services with Komatsu.

Komatsu, which has been in business in Fort Worth for 53 years, has undertaken numerous historic preservation projects, including work on railroad and aviation museums, said Karl Komatsu, CEO.

Komatsu, on such projects, works in conjunction with Museumscapes. 

Although it appears a newly constructed building will house Cleburne’s railroad museum, it’s about more than simply the building, said Druce Reilly of Museumscapes.

“It’s about working with you through the process to determine who your audience is and what message you want to convey, what compelling story you want to tell,” Reilly said. “What is the story is going to be an important part of the development and then determining, once people have visited, how to get them to come back again.”

The primary vision so far, railroad committee member Sonny Burt said, is to bring tourists to Cleburne, railroad enthusiasts and to preserve history by attracting the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who worked in Cleburne’s railroad shops.

“The museum crowd is usually made up of streakers, strollers and studiers,” Reilly said with a laugh. “We have to plan to accommodate all three.”

The planning process includes not only the railroad museum, but the bigger picture as well, Komatsu said. 

“We look at the community, look at the synergy you have in Cleburne to work with,” Komatsu said.

An example being Cleburne’s Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum, said Dana Compton, Komatsu director of business development. Komatsu officials have looked at that museum to determine the story it tells and how it fits in with the community.

Although it’s early in the process, Komatsu estimated that construction of the museum building should take six to eight months but added that financing and construction plans would first need to be approved. 

Komatsu, pending council approval, will begin compiling cost estimates. 

The railroad museum is the last of several 4B projects approved by voters in 2002. Voters also approved a half-cent sales tax increase at the same time to fund quality-of-life projects in the city.

Plans call for constructing the museum on North Border Street adjacent to Cleburne’s Intermodal Depot. Plans call for building the museum in the style of a historic depot.

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