RyPN Briefs February 12, 2008
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Historic Depot Restored in Mount Vernon, Ohio
People like historic public buildings and especially historic train stations. A depot, some people say, is a community's front door.
The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad depot, located five blocks west of the square on High Street, served as Mount Vernon's front door for more than 95 years as a telegraph office, freight and passenger railroad station. Owned by the City of Mount Vernon, the B&O depot has undergone a complete renovation that was completed in November 2007.
On Monday, November 25, 1907, Baltimore & Ohio passenger train number 7, northbound, was the first train to stop at the new B&O station. A small news item in the local newspaper, The Daily Banner, read, "The new building is a very handsome one and also very convenient. One of the most striking advantages is that a passenger can purchase a ticket and have his baggage checked without going outside the station. The new station is equipped with all modern conveniences. It is heated with steam and lighted with electricity".
The single one and a half story structure was built in the style known as "Richardsonian Romanesque". Henry H. Richardson has been recognized as one of the few, great American architects and his interpretation of Romanesque forms influenced a whole generation of architects, including the architect who designed the B&O depot. The style is easily identified by the heavy masonry construction, the Roman arches, and the deep window recesses. The exterior is of stone, brick and wood construction and the 4,200 square-foot interior is of plaster and quarter-sawn white oak hardwoods, including the floors. The hip roof is red quarry tile.
The restoration of Mount Vernon's B&O depot may be one of the largest private-public projects in the history of the City. The City of Mount Vernon purchased the depot from CSX Transportation in late 2002 for $160,000. Work commenced on the structure in 2003 and was completed in 2007, in time for the depot s 100th anniversary. All new electric wire was threaded through the existing conduit; new plumbing was added, and the installation of a 6-ton geo-thermal heating and air conditioning system replaced the original boiler-fired steam heat. All interior woodwork (except for the floor) was stripped of varnish and restored to its original look. A new, quarter-sawn white oak floor replaced the yellow pine floor that was installed in the late 1950s. Insulation was added around the stone base and in the attic. Total cost of the restoration was $824,000, with 54 percent of the funds coming from private donations, and $14,000 was donated in services or products. No state or federal funds were used in the purchase or restoration of the building.
A grand opening was held October 18-21, 2007 where the public was invited to tour the building. The Ohio Central Railroad loaned 4-6-2 steam locomotive 1293 for the occasion, which sat in front of the station the entire weekend.
The depot is leased by the Knox County Art League, who holds arts shows and programs in the depot. Individuals and organizations may also use the depot for special events, such as a dinner or retreat, for a small fee. A non-profit board maintains and runs the depot on behalf of the City.
One last bit of history. This story has been repeated so often in Knox County that it must be true.
The plans for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad station arrived in Mount Vernon on June 15, 1906. The structure was to be built during the summer. But that was before love was in the air.
It seems the railroad planned a more modest, frame structure for Mount Vernon and an elaborate, stone depot for Sandusky, Ohio, (then the northern terminal of the railroad). The frame building would take less than six months to construct while the stone structure a great deal longer. The person in charge of depot construction for the B&O fell in love with a Mount Vernon woman and wished to spend as much time with her as possible. No problem; he simply switched plans. Mount Vernon got the wonderful stone and brick building while Sandusky received the wood frame depot.
And the supervisor got to spend more time in Mount Vernon.
For information about the depot, including the restoration or use of photographs of the depot, please contact:
Phil Samuell (email@example.com)
For information on reserving the depot for an event, the Knox County Art League handles reservations and collects user fees on behalf of the depot. Please call them at:
Knox County Art League (firstname.lastname@example.org)
More information, as well as additional restoration photographs can also be found on their website, located at mountvernondepot.org.
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