The paint colors chosen for the Centerville depot are authentic colors used by Southern Pacific at the time the depot was constructed in 1910.  Although there was some slight variation in the colors from depot to depot due to the local mixing of paints and less precision used in the mixing of paint colors than we are accustomed to today, Southern Pacific's wooden depots largely adhered to the specified standard paint colors. To maintain the historic character of the Centerville depot, we based the Centerville depot's colors on actual paint analysis of several depots constructed from 1904-1913 (Millbrae 1907, Colfax 1904, and Atherton 1913).
Paint analysis has been conducted on a number of Southern Pacific wooden depots including: Santa Clara, Millbrae, Livermore, San Leandro, Menlo Park, Atherton, Arbuckle, Colfax, and Live Oak. Paint research has also been performed on a number of non-wood depots including Burlingame, Davis, and San Carlos. Historic paint consultants conduct paint analysis on primary and corroborating secondary samples to identify historical paint colors of the depot buildings. Colors are matched to the Munsell Color Notation System.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, Albert H. Munsell revolutionized the world of color communication. Where vague nomenclature and even conflicting descriptions had been the norm, Munsell established an orderly system for accurately identifying every color that exists. So simple and practical was his idea, that today the Munsell System of Color Notation is established and recognized as the standard for color notation throughout the world. Precise representations of the colors from the Munsell System are available in books and various size swatches, in matte and glossy finishes. They make it easy to specify and communicate exact color selections to anyone, anywhere, and are used worldwide in industry, art, and science. Individuals can order and have delivered color samples that can be provided to a paint manufacturer/seller for spectrophotometric matching and mixing.
Based on paint research reports from the Southern Pacific depots at Millbrae, Colfax, and Atherton, the following Munsell color numbers represent an accurate selection of "correct" Southern Pacific depot exterior and interior colors for the period of 1907 through the 1920's (Note the SP Dark Yellow color on the lower part of the exterior wallsbegan to be omitted from depot repainting in the 1920's and 1930's).
(2.5Y 8/6) "SP Colonial Yellow" (door panel and overall upper body color down to the top edge of the SP Dark Yellow color at 1907 Millbrae and 1904 Colfax depots). Confirmed by examination of woodwork found during the course of restoration work on the 1910 Centerville depot.
(10YR 7/8) "SP Dark Yellow" lower wall color (lower wall trim at 1907 Millbrae depot). For most Southern Pacific depots having the lower wall painted in SP Dark Yellow, the lower wall paint layer usually included sand that was bellowed onto the wet paint surface (multiple layers with a painted overlay). The resulting thick "sand paint" protected the soft wood surface all around the depot from the constant bumping of baggage carts, freight, and baggage. Note that the Centerville depot replicates the SP Dark Yellow lower wall color, but without the application of sand.
A "warm white" is used for the window sash and transom sash (off-white "Frost #14" Kelly Moore, or equivalent). Also used for eave soffit at 1910 Centerville depot.
(10GY 3/4) "SP Moss Green" (for wood roof - from original shingle at the California State Railroad Museum).  Confirmed by examination of original wood roof shingles found during the course of restoration work on the 1910 Centerville and SP Sunol depots (shingles found were painted after installation on the roof - there was paint on the top side only - therefore, shingles were not dipped prior to installation on the roof). The Centerville depot restoration used a Cabot - O.V.T. Solid Color Oil Stain #6510 Evergreen (a very close match to the Munsell color listed).
(7.5YR 4/4) "SP Samoa Brown"  for the architectural trim elements - window and door surrounds, corner boards, door stiles and rails, door sash, freight deck trim, architrave, porch columns, column bases and caps (trim color for the 1913 Atherton depot)(a nice medium brown color). Confirmed by examination of original woodwork (never painted over) found during the course of restoration work on the 1910 Centerville depot.
(10YR 5/6) "SP Amber" (the Centerville depot uses this amber color as a trim element on the inside edges of the door and window frames).
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Brown trim color variants include:
(10YR 5/6) "SP Amber" (1st painting of the Millbrae depot in 1907)(a spicy brown mustard color). Also found as an original trim color at the 1904 Colfax depot.
(7.5YR 3/6) "SP Dark Brown" (second and subsequent paint trim color used at the Millbrae depot, post 1907)(a darker brown color than the "Somoa Brown")
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Interior colors identified at the Millbrae depot include:
(10YR 8/4) "SP Cream" (used at 1907 Millbrae and 1904 Colfax depots; sometimes called beige - entire waiting room including walls, doors,, door surrounds, window and transom sash, ceiling, and trim elements painted in the single cream color).
(2.5YR 2/4) "SP Dark Red Brown" (wainscot in baggage room)
(10YR 8/2) "SP Putty" (upper portion of walls in baggage room, including interior of doors in baggage room).
Munsell color samples in gloss finish can be ordered from GretagMacbeth via phone (800) 622-2384 or fax (845) 561-0267. Color samples are available in 8.5 inch by 11 inch sheets at $23.70 per sheet or in 3/4 inch by 1 5/8 inch chips at $4.10 per chip. Minimum order is $35.00 and credit cards are accepted. The city of Fremont used Munsell color samples taken from these three historic paint research reports (Millbrae, Colfax, and Atherton) for the repainting of the exterior of the Centerville depot. (Note: The architect for the restoration of the Centerville depot chose not to replicate the depot's original interior paint colors. Instead, the architect substituted an interior color scheme, albeit attractive and functional, that is not historically accurate for Southern Pacific wood depots. This is commonly referred to as "artist's license".)
If you are involved in the restoration of an historic Southern Pacific depot in your community, you might investigate the paint scheme of your depot through archival research of historic photographs taken between 1912-1914 by Southern Pacific photographers. This extensive "X-file" collection of depot photographs is now part of the Union Pacific Museum Collection in Omaha, Nebraska. To obtain more information about the Union Pacific Museum Collection and this photo collection, visit their web site or write to: Keely Rennie Tucker, Museum Curator; Union Pacific Railroad Museum Collection; 200 Pearl Street; Council Bluffs, IOWA, 51503. (402) 271-5513; Fax (402) 271-6460; e-mail karennie@up.com. Hours are 10am - 4pm, Tuesday through Saturday.
If you want additional information regarding specific historic colors for a particular depot you are interested in, you may want to contact a reputable paint research consultant that can provide you guidance, advise, and actual research on historic paint colors for Southern Pacific depots. Undertaking research efforts may prove worthwhile and very informative. For example, research work of the SP 1904 Colfax depot revealed that the depot's window sash were originally painted green, and not the customary white (a rare variation). mailto:karennie@up.comshapeimage_1_link_0
Historic Paint Colors

Standard Plan "Combination Depot No. 18" at Benicia, California

Depot moved from Banta, Ca in 1902 via barge.  Depot retired in 1958 and restored by the City of Benicia in 2002.  Excellent restoration and fairly good color scheme, although shade of yellow is incorrect and the light brown lower wall color is not yet substantiated as accurate for this depot. Photo taken in 2002.


William G. Wullenjohn Sr. Photograph

Canby, Oregon Depot on April 29, 1999

One Story Combination Depot No. 11 

Painted to represent circa pre-1930 color scheme 

Paint errors - Depot should have wood shingle roof stained SP Moss Green, door panels should be SP Colonial Yellow, station signs not correct for the time period represented by the color scheme of the depot. 

William G. Wullenjohn, Sr. Photo

Danville Depot on July 19, 1999

Built 1891 

Two Story Combination Depot No. 18 


Painted to represent original color scheme (see paint errors below). In reality, looks more like post-1940 paint scheme. 


For the 1891 period represented in the restoration, the brown trim is too dark, the SP Dark Yellow lower wall color is missing, window and door frames should be SP Colonial Yellow and SP Dark Yellow (window sash remain white), the second story roof fascia should be SP Colonial Yellow and not white, the first story roof fascia should be brown and not white, the wood roof shingles should be stained SP Moss Green, and there are some minor lettering errors on the station signs (e.g. elevation should be black, not red). 


William G. Wullenjohn Sr. Photograph

Restored Standard Plan Combination Depot No. 22 at Folsom, California


Depot replaced the first Folsom depot that was destroyed by fire.  Photo taken in 2002. 


William G. Wullenjohn Sr. Photograph

Goleta Depot, December 19, 1999

Two-Story Combination Depot No. 22 

Built Circa 1901-02 


Color scheme for depot is correct for 1940s and later era (which omits the SP Dark Yellow wainscot color). However, the roof shingles should be in SP Moss Green color. In addition, the two roof signs on each end of the depot (which display the elevation and miles to San Francisco) are usually associated with the earlier paint scheme that included the wainscot color. Otherwise, a perfect exterior restoration of a standard design SP wood depot. 


William G. Wullenjohn Sr. Photograph

King City Depot, September 8, 2000

One Story Combination Depot No. 16 

Built Circa 1886 


The King City depot is the sole survivor of a dozen One Story Combination Depot No. 16 depots Southern Pacific built beginning in 1886. Today, the depot is part of an historic exhibit in King City's San Lorenzo Park. The depot has been reconstructed to its original size and configuration and has been repainted using a post-1940 color scheme. The depot even includes the correct SP Moss Green painted wood shingle roof -- a feature often missing from restored SP wooden depots. The paint color scheme is correct except for the brown painted narrow vertical "battens" located above the station sign which should be SP Colonial Yellow. In addition, there are a few minor lettering errors on the station sign boards. Overall, it is an excellent depot restoration. 


William G. Wullenjohn Sr. Photograph

Lodi Depot, February 2000

Built 1907 

The depot's paint colors are accurate for the 1907 construction period. However, the columns should be S.P. Colonial Yellow with S.P. Dark Yellow lower wall trim, not all brown as shown. The depot's roof should be wood shingle, not composition for the time period represented by the color scheme. The depot's two roof signs are positioned too high on the roof are not sized properly (lengthwise) for the Lodi station name. The lettering on the sign boards, although a fair approximation, do not follow SP's specifications for lettering style, size, and position. Otherwise, an excellent exterior restoration and one of the few Southern Pacific wood depots restored to an early-period paint scheme. 


William G. Wullenjohn Sr. Photograph

Lovelock, Nevada Southern Pacific Depot, April 24, 2002

Two Story Combination Depot No. 2 


Built around 1878 by Central Pacific (The Lovelock depot is the sole survivor of six depots built to Standard Plan No. 2). 


William G. Wullenjohn Photo (photo taken from Amtrak’s California Zephyr at 79mph)

Millbrae, California Depot in 1996

One-of-a-kind, Two Story Colonnade Design Passenger Depot 


Painted to represent original 1907 color scheme 

Paint errors - window sash should be white, wood shingle roof should be moss green, depot roof sign incorrect for the 1907-1920 period. 


William G. Wullenjohn, Sr. Photo

Oceano Depot, December 23, 1999

Two-Story Combination Depot No. 22 


Correct paint color scheme for 1940s and later period (which omits the SP Dark Yellow lower wall color trim). However, the roof should be in the SP Moss Green color. No roof signs on depot. Otherwise, an excellent restoration of the depot. 


William G. Wullenjohn, Sr. Photo

San Leandro, California Depot in 1996

Built June of 1898, expanded 18 ft in 1924 


Depot originally painted in Central Pacific's two-tone green color scheme. Painted in SP's post-1924 paint scheme (without the SP Dark Yellow lower wall color). Note: door panels should be SP Colonial Yellow, not white. 


William G. Wullenjohn, Sr. Photo

Roseville, California Depot in 1996

Two Story Replica of Combination Depot No. 22 

Built 1994 

Painted to represent circa post-1940 color scheme. 

Several color errors - window sash should be white, composition roof should be painted SP Moss Green, door panels would look better if painted SP Colonian Yellow, and the depot roof signs are incorrect and not to specifications for the post-1940 time period. 


William G. Wullenjohn, Sr. Photo

Southern Pacific "Dark Yellow"


Lower wall trim color 


Munsell Color Notation System (10YR 7/8)

CAUTION - Please note that the following computer scans of Munsell color samples posted on this web site are slightly distorted from the original colors.


Should you print the color samples out on a color printer from this web site, there will be further distortion of the colors. Therefore, we recommend you order color samples from GretagMacbeth (using the Munsell Color Notation System numbers listed) to obtain accurate colors.

Southern Pacific "Samoa Brown"


Window and door surrounds, corner boards, door stiles and rails, door sash, freight deck trim, architrave, porch columns, column bases and caps 


Munsell Color Notation System (7.5YR 4/4)

Southern Pacific "Amber" 

 
Circa 1904 - 1910 exterior trim color 


Munsell Color Notation System (10YR 5/6)

Southern Pacific "Moss Green"

Wood roof color 


Munsell Color Notation System (10GY 3/4)

Southern Pacific "Dark Red Brown" 


Baggage Room wainscot color 


Munsell Color Notation System (2.5YR 2/4)

Southern Pacific "Putty" 


Baggage Room upper wall and inside door color 


Munsell Color Notation System (10YR 8/2)

Southern Pacific "Cream"


Waiting Room color 


Munsell Color Notation System (10YR 8/4)

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Southern Pacific "Colonial Yellow" 


Door panel and overall upper body color down to top of SP Dark Yellow lower wall color. 


Munsell Color Notation System (2.5Y 8/6)