Posts Tagged ‘Historic Preservation’

Detroit Depot Restoration Moving Along

January 16, 2022

Restoration of the former Michigan Central station in Detroit is well along and project managers expect it to be complete by the second quarter of 2023.

Once completed, you’ll be able to eat, drink, work and even get married in the longtime Detroit icon and symbol of urban decay, but you won’t be able to catch a train.

The depot’s days as a train station ended in early January 1988 when Amtrak ceased using it and the beaux arts building’s new owner has other plans for the area where passengers once boarded trains.

The 18-story MC station has been owned by the Ford Motor Company since 2018. For decades before Ford bought it, the structure, which opened in 1913, had seemed destined to be razed.

Nearly all of its windows had been broken and anything of value had been stolen or removed.

During a news media tour last week of the station complex, project managers said the building was missing everything imaginable when workers began their renovation five-year work.

Ford plans to locate restaurants and a luxury hotel on the upper three floor of the station.

Offices for Ford and its partners in the mobility and autonomous vehicle endeavors will be housed in the next 10 floors.

The bottom floors will be devoted to public gathering spaces, a coffee shop, a food court, and events space with a capacity of 1,000.

The former boarding area will become a mobility testing site to be named The Platform.

During the media tour, Ford’s project manager, Rich Bardelli, said the project remains within its $740 million budget. Ford bought the building and its adjacent properties for $90 million.

Much of the early restoration work at the station involved restoring infrastructure that had vanished during the years when the structure sat vacant and was a target of vandals, thieves and squatters.

This included installing 300 miles of electric wire; 20 miles of heating and cooling duct work and piping; 6 miles of plumbing pipes; and 8.6 miles of grout in between 29,000 terracotta tiles along the arching ceiling of the front waiting room.

Some of the station’s original architectural features had to be recreated and painstakingly installed.

More than 1,700 of the Guastavino terracotta ceiling tiles had to be replaced, which involved building 252 tons of scaffolding to place them 65 feet above the floor.

Engineers used 3-D printing and resin to recreate 560 new lightweight ornate floral rosettes and leafs that adorn the windows.

Most of the original iron rosettes had been removed and during the restoration process some individuals who had possession of some of them dropped them off at the construction site so they could be reinstalled.

Located in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, the station is the centerpiece of a campus Ford is creating that will cost $950 million.

Ford plans to move 2,500 of its employees in autonomous and electric vehicle development departments to the campus. There will be space for 2,500 more Ford workers from suppliers and partners in the mobility sector.

Aside from the station itself, Ford is renovating the adjacent Book Depository building for use as offices and plans to construct a third office building on the campus.

Bardelli said dining options in the station complex will be located on the top floors of the tower; the former carriage house on the west end of the building along Vernor Highway; and a food court in the concourse.

Negotiations are underway with potential retail, hospitality and hotel vendors and contracts are expected to be reached later this year.

Over the next 18 months craftsmen will be recreating some of the other historic features of the station, including wood wainscoting panels, crown molding, marble borders and wood floors in the former waiting rooms.

“We’re in the midst right now of just starting to put all of that back,” Bardelli said.

The former waiting areas are being repurposed into events space and Bardelli said Ford has already received inquiries from couples who want to get married there.

Indiana Monon Station at Risk

September 2, 2020

The former Monon depot in Bedford, Indiana, in July 1992. The track in the foreground connected the former Milwaukee Road with the former Monon. At the time, Soo Line operated two trains a day over this connection.

The former Monon passenger station in Bedford, Indiana, is at risk of demolition due to its dilapidated condition a preservation group has warned.

The station was built in 1926 of Indiana limestone. Bedford is the self-style “Limestone Capital of the World” and the Monon over the years shipped tons of the stone that was used to build numerous buildings across the country.

Passenger service at the depot ended in 1967, but the building housed an operator for several years afterwards.

After railroad use of the depot ended, Lawrence County officials began using it as a recycling center.

That use has since ended and the station has become a target for vandals. Deteriorating soffits are endangering the tile roof.

Community leaders and trail advocates have expressed interest in transforming the station into as a trail head for the Milwaukee Road Transportation Trailway, which is built on the former right of way of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul branch that once served Bedford.

The former Milwaukee Road passenger station has been preserved and converted into an information center, gathering space, and trail head for the Limestone Trail System.

Officials hope that saving the Monon Station could spur similar investment in the north edge of Downtown Bedford.

They have cautioned that preservation of the depot needs to occur soon before further deterioration makes preservation of the structure even more difficult and expensive.

Emery Trust Makes Awards, NYC Box Car Saved

March 31, 2020

The John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust has announced its 2020 grant awards.

Although no grants were awarded to any organizations based in Ohio, the Kentucky Railway Museum received $43,000 for firebox and boiler work on Chesapeake & Ohio 2-8-4 No. 2716.

The Erie Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society received a $25,000 award for restoring diner 469/470.

In an unrelated development, The Wabash Valley Railroad Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana, said it will work with CSX to preserve a 98-year-old New York Central boxcar.

CSX will move the car, weather permitting, from Greencastle, Indiana, to the museum site next to CSX tracks in Terre Haute on March 31.

NYC No. 155524 was built by American Car & Foundry in 1922, rebuilt with steel sides in 1939, and placed near the NYC depot in Greencastle for storage use in 1965.

It had been ticketed to be scrapped until the Hailey Tower Historical & Technical Society, which owns the museum, was able to save it.

The Society is seeking donations to offset the $15,000 cost of moving the car and building a display track.

Donations can be made at the museum website or by mail to the Haley Tower Historical & Technical Society, P.O. Box 10291, Terre Haute, IN 47801.

Rowlands to Present at June ARRC Meeting

June 18, 2018

Rick Rowlands will present the program at the June 22 meeting of the Akron Railroad Club.

Rick is heavily involved with preservation work and that will be the focus of his program.

Besides his own Mahoning Valley Industrial Heritage museum he does a lot of traveling to help move various engines.

Most recently he has been involved in prepping Nickel Plate Road No. 757 for its move to the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum in Bellevue, from its current home in Pennsylvania.

Rick also hopes to be able to make a big announcement at the June ARRC meeting.

The meeting will begin with a short business meeting at 8 p.m. followed by the program at approximately 8:30 p.m. The club meets at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.

Following the meeting, some members gather at the Eat ‘n Park restaurant at Howe and Main streets in Cuyahoga Falls for a late dinner, dessert or an early breakfast.

Visitors are always welcome at Akron Railroad Club meetings.

Ashtabula Depot Demolished

June 4, 2018

The former New York Central passenger station in Ashtabula was demolished late last week by CSX.

The demolition occurred despite some efforts to save it, including an idea to transform it into an Amtrak station.

That idea was put forth by the 21st Century Ashtabula Depot Rail Experience, a non-profit group created three years ago. It received backing from the city, but never got any further.

Ashtabula County historian and author Carl Feather told the Star Beacon that the lesson of the loss of the station is that people shouldn’t think in terms of museums only when attempting to save historic structures.

He cited the example of the Hotel Ashtabula, which was saved by linking its preservation to the county’s mental health needs.

“Historic preservation is shifting toward finding new uses for these old buildings,” Feather said. “Unfortunately, the depot was located in an area that is not conducive to re-use. If it was located in a different area, it might have been an excellent site for a restaurant and party center.”

Feather said Ashtabula is a small town and lacks the income level needed to support a higher-end venture.

“The county cannot support the museums we already have, and they are begging for volunteers and funds to keep the doors open. Most are open only a couple days a week and three months out of the year,” he said.

CSX said it demolished the 117-year structure, one of the oldest in Ashtabula, because of safety concerns.

However, the railroad said it has contacted local officials about salvaging materials from the depot.

Although Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited has passed by the station since it was inaugurated in late October 1975, it has never had a scheduled stop in Ashtabula.

The last passenger trains scheduled to stop in Ashtabula were four Penn Central trains that operated between Chicago and Buffalo, New York, and were discontinued with the coming of Amtrak on May 1, 1971.

The station was a stop for John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign train and sat within 1,000 feet of the deadliest train bridge collapse in U.S. history, which killed 83 people in 1876.

L&NE 611 Completes Trip Home to Pennsylvania

May 11, 2016

Lehigh & New England No. 611 has completed it journey from Indiana to its new home in Pennsylvania.

The Alco S2 made the trip via flatcar from Emporia, Indiana, to the Allentown & Auburn Railroad at Topton, Pennsylvania

The locomotive had languished at an Indiana grain elevator for six years before being acquired by the Lehigh New England Preservation Society.

The group will work with the A&A and the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society to restore the locomotive to operation and its original L&NE paint scheme.

Among the first diesel locomotives acquired by the L&NE, No. 611 served the carrier until its abandonment in the 1960s.

Michigan Steam Group Wins Preservation Award

May 8, 2014

The Steam Railroading Institute of Owosso, Mich., has received the 2014 Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation.

The award was given on Wednesday at a ceremony in the Michigan Statehouse in Lansing and was given for the Institute’s work in restoring Pere Marquette steam locomotive No. 1225.

“The Steam Railroading Institute will be accepting this award on behalf of its incredible volunteers who work tirelessly to see that SRI is a viable organization for its patrons and who brought PM 1225 back to life,” said David Shorter, executive director of SRI.”We are so proud of our volunteers and truly appreciate what they do for SRI.”

The State Historic Preservation Office initiated the award program in 2003 to recognize historic preservation achievements that reflect a commitment to the preservation of Michigan’s character and the many archaeological sites and historic and structures that document the state’s past.