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Ames Chamber of Commerce names new meeting space after former train depot master


The Ames Chamber of Commerce has named a newly renovated space in its lower level after Julia Laughlin. Laughlin was the only female station master in the country when she worked as the Ames Train Depot master from 1917 to 1924. The chamber wanted to provide space to bring people to Main Street and created the conference and meeting space in its lower level. Brenda Dryer, senior vice president of the Ames Chamber of Commerce, said the space includes two smaller meeting rooms and a larger space, a kitchen, and the latest in technology. She said the chamber wanted to create a flexible, vibrant space that could draw people downtown and bring more customers to downtown businesses. Every other room in the building is named after a man, and Dryer said the chamber made the commitment to name the new space after a woman. With the help of the Ames History Museum, they learned about Laughlin and her story. According to a news release, the Chicago-Northwestern Transportation Co. tried to cancel her contract, but the Ames Chamber of Commerce stepped in and renegotiated the contract on Laughlin’s behalf. Dryer said naming the space after Laughlin continues the organization’s commitment and its fight for underrepresented workers.

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