Leesburg depot restoration cookout


The Leesburg Area Historical Society will hold the Judy Mason Memorial Cookout Friday, June 16 at the Leesburg Depot from 5-8 p.m. in an effort to raise money to restore the village’s train depot.

The society will be offering hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, slaw, chips, cookies and beverages for a freewill donation.

“We’re getting pretty close to having enough money to do all of the outside of the depot and fix it up,” said Leesburg Area Historical Society President Raymond Friend. “We’ve got a new roof on it to at least protect it, and all the money goes toward that fund.”

The cookout is named for Judy Mason, who was pivotal in starting the local historical society and working to restore the depot. Mason passed away from COVID-19 a few months into her tenure as president of the society.

“She helped out so much with the first cookout we had there, and she was instrumental in getting us started,” said Friend.

The depot was purchased by the Leesburg Area Historical Society from CSX Transportation in June of 2019.

Friend said the society has between $32,000 and $34,000 raised to complete further renovations to the depot and has a goal of raising $50,000. “Once we get the $50,000 we will have a matching grant from the state to give us $100,000, so we will have $150,000 to do some of the work,” said Friend.

Modern Woodmen of America will match any donations from the cookout.

Other donations and grants have allowed the society to complete the roof on the depot. “We had to put in a new roof because it was just leaking and pouring rain down through there, so we were able to get enough money to shore up the roof and get that on there,” said Friend.

Friend said the next phase of the project, which is being designed by McCarty Associates, will include everything on the outside of the depot. “Hopefully, we want to have a little historical center, but we also want to modernize it so we can have small events there at the depot,” said Friend.

Friend said the society also plans to have food available at the local ballpark for the games that will be happening during the cookout.

Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.

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