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St. Clairsville depot could be restored

David Mertz of Belmont College’s Historic Building and Restoration Program, from left, Gabe Haye of Wallace Pancher Group and St. Clairsville Councilman Perry Basile inspect the train station on Sugar Street in October. The city is considering restoring the historic structure.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — City leaders are looking at options to restore a century-old railroad depot on Sugar Street for community use.

Gabe Hayes of the Wallace Pancher Group engineering firm said the depot is in need of roof repair and interior repairs to the walls. The windows have been restored, but the building must be scraped and painted. A restroom could also be placed there.

“We talked about it being used for events and community gatherings,” he said.

Hayes said the first record of the depot is on an 1887 map.

“So it was built prior to 1887. The depot has been moved and turned and adjusted several times. It’s always been on that corner, but they’ve turned it different ways at different times,” he said.

Hayes said he does not know which railroad owned the depot. The BNL Railroad, Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad and St. Clairsville Northern Railroad have all served the community.

The city has been looking into the possibility of restoring the depot for several years. Hayes said around 2008 he worked with the city administration to put a plan together for St. Clairsville Central Park, the old Belmont County fairgrounds located nearby.

“As part of that plan, we looked at the acquisition of the land that the historic railroad station currently sits (on).

“The city then applied to receive Clean Ohio funds from the District 18 Natural Resource Assistance Council, which I chair, and were successful in getting that money to buy that land,” he said.

Hayes said the land includes space where the community garden now resides. There has since been tree planting in that area.

“There was some beautification done. The community gardens were built. There was a lot of great achievement at that time, however that money did not include funds to fix up the historic railroad depot,” he said.

Since then, Belmont College’s Historic Building and Restoration Program led by David Mertz has completed studies on the historic railroad building.

“They’ve even volunteered and restored the windows, which are ready to be re-installed,” Hayes said. He is working with Mayor Kathryn Thalman and Safety and Service Director Jeremy Greenwood toward making the renovation a reality.

“We talked about the potential and the excitement to do more at that site, to promote the purpose of why that project was funded, for nature conservation,” he said, specifying that the funds must be used for this.

“We’re talking about how can that depot enhance that purpose, and how can it be programmed? What’s it going to take to fix it? How can we get donated funds and grant funds?”

The cost is yet to be determined.

“It’s just a matter of putting together donations and grants,” he said. “We know that there is some potential to reduce the overall cost with volunteers, both in labor and in materials. … There are funds and grants that are available out there for this type of work.”

“We’re hoping that other people in the community get excited, too, and would be willing to donate either their time or money to not only save a historic transportation train station structure, but also to make this little corner a beautiful spot,” he said.

Hayes said the depot could be a potential trail-head for the bike trail, which terminates near the St. Clairsville-Richland City School District campus.

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