Kent Railroad Depots In Danger of Demolition

The former Wheeling & Lake Erie depot in Kent was previously a feed store, but now faces possible demolition if the building is not sold.

Kent is fortunate to still have the three railroad passenger stations that once served this Portage County city, but two of them are in danger of being razed.

The former Wheeling & Lake Erie depot may be facing the wrecking ball unless a private investor comes forward soon to save it.

The depot, built in 1881, is located on West Main Street and features chipped red siding, dingy white doors, broken windows and a weathered foundation.

The depot has changed hands several times and most recently was used by Kent Feed and Supply, which closed last year.

Carter Lumber purchased the depot in 2012 with the knowledge that it would be turned over to it once it was vacated.

Carter Lumber used part of the depot property to enlarge its outdoor storage yard. In an effort to save the 133-year-old depot, Carter Lumber offered the structure to the City of Kent.

“We told Kent that if it has some kind of historic value, you’re welcome to salvage it,” said Chuck Price, vice president of construction/development at Carter Lumber.

The city, though, declined the offer.

“The problem from the public perspective is the building condition and previous use, all of which brought the city to the final conclusion that the city could not re-purpose the building,” said Kent Service Director Gene Roberts.

Carter isn’t planning to demolish the building just yet but likely will if no one else comes forward to preserve it.

Price said there has been some interest from at least one individual, who he declined to name, but it is uncertain if anyone will commit to saving or relocating the station.

Price said he expects to know more later this month.

“Not all buildings can be reused, and not all buildings can be saved,” said Sandy Halem of the Kent Historical Society, which originally formed in the 1970s to save the Erie Depot on Franklin Street when it was abandoned.

That building is owned by the KHS and space is leased to the Pufferbelly Ltd. restaurant and other entities, creating a revenue stream for the nonprofit organization.

The KHS doesn’t have the financial resources to take on the depot on West Main Street, but supports its preservation.

Halem, however, fears rough winter weather may have damaged the building’s aging foundation base, noting that it now might be impossible to move.

In the meantime, the future of the former Baltimore & Ohio passenger station in Kent also remains murky.

That structure, built in 1905, caught fire last April. CSX had been using it for storage, but the railroad has not revealed what plans it has for the structure.

A freight depot that once sat across from the B&O passenger station was demolished in 2010.


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One Response to “Kent Railroad Depots In Danger of Demolition”

  1. Jerry Dawson Says:

    W&LE station has since been moved across the street and structural restoration has begun and will soon be moved onto new footings

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