An architect has provided drawings of what the Leesburg train depot will look like when its completely renovated, and Alice Teeters, secretary for the Leesburg Area Historical Society that is overseeing the project, said the goal is for work on the 1899 structure to begin sometime this summer.
Ken Worley, president of the historical society, said that once it is renovated, the building will be available to the public for use as an event venue, local history museum, and education center for the community. Teeters said it could also be used for weddings, baby showers, reunions, music concerts and similar events.
“The completion of the depot will bring a mid-sized meeting and event center to town that can be used by businesses and civic groups. Closets have been designed to conceal storage of extra tables and chairs for larger occasions such as weddings,” Worley said in an email. “As soon as the granted finances are in place, we are then ready to begin the next stage of construction. We will continue to have fundraisers in order to cover the next stage of the project.”
A $12,000 donation from Valero Renewables in November put the historical society over the $50,000 it was trying to raise so it could receive $100,000 in matching grant funds from the Ohio Facilities Commission. But Teeters said the $150,000-plus the historical currently has in place will not be enough to complete the project like the society wants to see it done.
She said some of the interior walls will be removed so rooms can be more open, and that the building should be able to hold around 60 people when it’s finished.
But before it can it can get to that point some other things have to be taken care of. For instance, Teeters said, since the building will remain on its original site, drainage issues on one side of the lot will have to corrected. And while the society hopes to preserve as much of the structure as possible, Teeters said there is trim work and other things that may need to be replaced.
On the exterior the new building will be dark red with white trim and a black roof. Teeters said those were the building’s original colors. She said around the 1940s it was painted a cream/tan color, but that the society eventually decided to take it back to its original appearance.
On the interior there will be a display area, a separate office/display area, kitchenette, bathroom, utility room and storage areas.
Teeters said the historical society is hoping to receive in-kind donations of things like paint, windows, etc. to help keep the costs down.
“We hope that as things start going we pick up a little more interest, because right now it’s an eyesore,” she said.
At one time the depot was scheduled to be razed, but it gained a new lease on life after being purchased by the historical society.
The first step in acquiring ownership of the old building was obtaining non-profit status for the historical society, but Teeters said a grassroots effort at saving the structure began more than 15 years ago. Last year the historical society began making serious inquiries about buying the structure from the owner, CSX Corp.
“The village wrote a letter to CSX to get a response on getting contact information,” she said. “Their intent was to either demolish an unsightly, dilapidated building that could have some safety and liability issues, or to see if this grassroots effort could try to save it.”
The historical society’s goal is to focus on the local history and culture of Leesburg, with the idea of a museum to house items that Teeters said many in the area have said they would be willing to loan or donate to a permanent museum facility.
Combining highlights of Leesburg’s history with the history of rail service to the village is a primary goal of the organization, Teeters said, adding the rail line is still active and provides regular delivery of supplies to Candle-lite, which the company said has been a part of Leesburg’s infrastructure for 179 years.
For those interested, Teeters said the historical society meets the second Tuesday of each month in Leesburg Village Council chambers. She said meetings times vary, but details are posted on the society’s website and Facebook page.
Anyone wanting to make a donation to the project can send it to: Leesburg Historical Society, P.O. Box 63, Leesburg, Ohio 45135.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.