The depot operated until 1953 when it was abandoned. By then, train service had declined as car and trucks became the preferred choice for transportation. Local businesses then used the depot for storage. It became a restaurant in 1976 and designated Lubbock's first historic landmark in August 1979. It was was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. The restaurant operated until 1997. Within the next few years, it was converted to the Buddy Holly Center.
Buddy Holly was born Charles Hardin Holley in September of 1936. His rise to rock and roll fame in the 1950s was influenced by local acts he viewed and participated in in the town of Lubbock. Holly’s big break was in 1955, when he opened for the Rock and Roll legend Elvis Presley. Despite originally leaning more towards Country music, after performing with Elvis, Buddy Holly devoted himself to Rock and Roll.
In 1959, Buddy Holly passed away in a tragic plane crash with a number of other influential musicians, which led to the day of his death being referred to as “the day the music died,” by musician Don McLean. Buddy Holly is widely credited with establishing the guitar-centric format of Rock and Roll bands that is still common to this day.
The Buddy Holly Center now serves as a permanent landmark to the young musician’s influence and reach. Every year there is a Day of Remembrance for the “day the music died,” in which Holly and his fellows are celebrated and studied. In recent years, the Center has attracted the patronage of other music greats, such as Paul McCartney of the Beatles, who has long credited Holly for his influence on the music of the band that lead the British Invasion and set Beatlemania into motion. McCartney played at the center in 2014.