Skip to main content

The Renovation of Merryman Station

Aug 23, 2017 11:00AM ● Published by Jordan Venema

Gallery: The Renovation of Merryman Station [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

History Revealed

September 2017
Story by Jordan Venema
Photos courtesy of Merryman Station

Along the 198 just outside Exeter, there are two notable landmarks: the citrus orchards and one particularly rustic building. In the last year, decade and even century, this wooden building has found itself in varying conditions and states of operation. Some might remember it most recently as the restaurant Orange Blossom Junction, or perhaps even under another name from one of the many businesses that came before. 

When Orange Blossom Junction closed in 2012, the building – isolated from neighboring Exeter and Visalia – quickly took on the air of a structure better suited for a ghost town. That it had ever been a bustling restaurant was a distant memory. 

But an even more distant memory, and one that few living might even remember, is that the building was the site of a stop for the Visalia Electric Railroad, whose tracks had come to Visalia as early as 1874 and extended to Exeter in 1898.

“There’s a lot of history here and it was much more than a restaurant,” says Amanda Thomas, who with her husband purchased the property about three years ago. “Merryman was actually the original name of the station, a stop on the railroad and a famous packing house next door that packed the citrus.” 

The couple had originally bought the building to use its second floor as offices for their Tulare-based construction company, and also to open a small shop for travelers and tourists en route to Sequoia National Park. But they abandoned the idea for offices and focused solely on renovating the building to open as a specialty goods market and banquet facility. 

“We felt it was a really good opportunity to bring back this old building,” says Thomas, who with her husband spent two and a half years remodeling the building before opening as Merryman Station in December 2016.

Thankfully, the Thomases are lovers of history, because while this building has historical significance, it is not an officially designated historical landmark. In other words, whoever owns the building could renovate – or demolish – it as they please. But for the Thomases, preservation was always a priority.

“How could it not be?” asks Thomas. “It’s a fixture in this community, and we wanted to showcase the beauty of the building.”

According to Thomas, “We tore down a lot of walls and ceilings so we could showcase the rafters and beams, and we put in some industrial elements, like glass walls,” in order to see more of the interior. They also added modern touches, adding, “We wanted to maintain the structure but also bring out the beauty of it so people could admire it. Plus, the building itself was in good shape.” Still, Thomas says, “We’ve probably touched every inch of that building.” 

But for all their preservation and renovation, Thomas says their main priority was showcasing the old railroad tracks.

“As we were remodeling the building, it was so important to preserve the railroad tracks, which most people don’t even know are there,” says Thomas. “These are the original electric railroads and when we discovered they were used in the Visalia Electric Railroad, we did our whole deck plan to showcase them.”

The Thomases remodeled the deck that offers a view of the tracks. They even purchased a velocipede, which is similar to a stationary bike and is used to travel along the rail of the tracks.

“My husband and I both enjoy history a great deal,” says Thomas, and they both used the remodeling process as a kind of exercise and opportunity to investigate the property’s history. They visited the museum at Visalia’s Mooney Grove Park, and also found old articles about the property. 

“We went through a gathering process to get as much information as possible,” says Thomas. “It was much more than ‘let’s buy a building and put a business in it.’ The building has touched so many lives in this area, so for us it was we are going to purchase a piece of history and we want everyone to know about it.” 

While the historical qualities of the building are interesting, what interests Thomas most is “how many people from outside the area are enthralled with the oranges – basically the citrus we have in our area that a lot of us take for granted.” 

Tourists take pictures of the orange trees, ask to walk through the groves, and wonder whether Merryman Station sells any products made with local oranges – which they do. Merryman Station, true to its name, is a kind of weigh station between the valley and the foothills, selling local products such as honey, nuts and other provisions for those on their way up the mountain. Their market and banquet facility is a new twist on an old building, and if the 1907 date engraved on one of their doors is any indication, they’re carrying on a tradition that goes back more than a century.


Merryman Station • 20898 Avenue 296, Exeter

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm

(559) 592-5706 • www.merrymanstation.com 

Find them on Facebook & Instagram 


In Print, Life+Leisure, Today, Community Merryman Station
  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/17/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/22/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Here Comes Santa Claus!

    12/22/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    Get your photo taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus at our FREE community event! Enjoy hot chocolate a...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/22/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/17/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/18/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Every Monday in the PHS cafeteria, come play bingo. Doors open at 430pm, early bird games start...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/18/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/19/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Hanford's Third Tuesday Takeover

    12/19/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    12 participating venues, each with live local music, and art on display. Come on out and be a par...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/19/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/20/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/22/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Here Comes Santa Claus!

    12/22/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    Get your photo taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus at our FREE community event! Enjoy hot chocolate a...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/22/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/24/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/25/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Every Monday in the PHS cafeteria, come play bingo. Doors open at 430pm, early bird games start...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/25/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/26/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/26/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/27/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Horse Camp For Beginners

    12/28/2017
    10:00AM — 12:30PM

    Topics to include history, daily care, medical care, safety, halter and leading a horse, grooming...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/29/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/29/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • New Year's Eve with the Eagles

    12/31/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Join us this New Year's Eve for this hike to celebrate the beginning of 2018 with the Bald Eagle,...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/31/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    01/01/2018
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    01/01/2018
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    01/02/2018
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    01/02/2018
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    01/03/2018
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • VCRC: General Support Group

    01/03/2018
    06:00PM — 07:30PM

    Valley Caregiver Resource Center invites you to attend a general support group


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    01/05/2018
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • In January 2018, Arts Visalia is pleased to host their annual Orange Blossom Quilt Guild. The Ora...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    01/05/2018
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Indoor Yard Sale

    01/06/2018
    08:00AM — 01:00PM

    Time to get organized and make some CA$H after the holidays! Clean out the attic, garage or shed...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    01/07/2018
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


Check out our sister publication, Enjoy Magazine: Northern California Living