| Galion's Station Platform and roof -Fall & Winter '04.
| Galion's Station preservation -Summer '04.
| Galion's Station preservation Continues On (winter '03-'04).
| Historical Marker dedicated for the Station's past significance (8-20-03).
| Grant received to aid restoration (12-18-02).
|Earlier stories below...
Depot getting "spruced up" for the holiday season-2000
A large part of Linda Chambers' anticipation for the approaching holidays stems from the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Galion Big Four Depot.
We have had wonderful cooperation with the city of Galion, the downtown merchants, the Galion Area Chamber of Commerce and involved citizens to plan this special event," said Chambers, manager of Main Street Galion and member of the Uptowne Christmas committee.
This event will take place on Dec. 2-3 at the depot, where the decorations will be complete with special holiday lighting, ornaments and special Christmas tree of its own. Special displays will be set for public viewing on the rich railroad history of Galion as well.
Festivities for the anniversary will begin on Saturday, Dec. 2, with the performance of the Children's Choirs at 9:30 a.m. Various groups will perform throughout the day until the holiday parade commences at 4 p.m.
A special trolley will be carrying visitors from the depot to Public Square, allowing for tours of Uptowne Galion and easy access to the parade and tree-lighting ceremony at 5 p.m.
Scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 3, at 2 p.m. sharp is the rededication ceremony of the depot. Music, which will be performed by a band recreating the original Galion City Band, will begin at 1 p.m. Dressed in era band garb, the group will play music of a century ago in addition to holiday favorites. Entertainment by local elementary students, music by the new City Band, and remarks from city officials and other dignitaries will be part of the rededication ceremony.
Door prizes will be given away throughout the weekend, one of which will be a Lionel train set.
The City of Galion recently purchased the former New York Central Depot to preserve this unique part of Galion's history, commented Chambers. The purchase was made possible by a generous grant from the Freese Foundation of Galion.
The depot opened in 1900 as the division office for the New York Central Railroad. Galion had been a key stop on the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad, which then became a part of the New York Central.
The depot reached its peak in passenger service during World War II and continued to provide passenger service until the 1960s.
Article taken from the "A Century of Christmas" (11-22-00) sponsored by the Galion Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Galion and the Galion Inquirer.
Big Four Depot officially owned by the city of Galion
by Pamela Dawson
The papers were signed and the deal was clinched on Monday, making the City of Galion the new official owner of the historic Big Four Depot.
At 1 p.m. Bob Meeks, owner of the train station, signed over the Depot to the city for $175,000. Local attorney Dick Hottenroth oversaw the legal proceedings and Bill Bauer, financial director of Galion, represented the city during the transaction.
"This is a good thing," said Bauer. "A lot of good response has come from the community about the city purchasing the Depot and wanting to find the best use for it."
Monday's final transaction in the sale brings to a close several months of negotiations and legwork from Main Street Galion, the Galion Area Chamber of Commerce and the city in this endeavor. The city stepped to the forefront as a prospective buyer earlier on April 11, when Galion city council members passed an ordinance granting city manager Phil Honsey the authority to enter a five-month purchase right with Meeks for $500. After some preliminary studies and inspections of the building were conducted, council voted for the purchase of the Depot by the city.
"This is something we can do for the citizens," council member Pauline Eaton during the April 11 meeting.
Most recently, the Freese Foundation granted the city $175,000 for the purchase of the Depot. This funding was formally accepted by the council members during the Aug 8 council meeting. In existence for approximately one year, the foundation functions to support community development and city improvements in accordance with the will of the late Egbert Freese, a renowned entrepreneur in Galion.
"We are ecstatic (Main Street and the Chamber) about this," said Linda Chambers, manager of Main Street. "We feel we have done something good for the city and the community, by securing one of the city's most historical sites."
The support from the community has been overall positive since the city made it publicly known they intended to gain ownership of Galion's only remaining train station. Noted for its splendid architectural rendering of the Queen And period, the Depot was once a thriving stop and division headquarters for the Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati and St. Louis Railroad line. Here in Galion, 32 passenger trains pulled to its landing during the steam engine heydays and people from near and far descended onto a covered platform which once stretched to Harding Way East.
Chambers said there have been several suggestions as how to best develop the Depot but the city is unwilling to make any decisions until some public meetings are held. The public meetings will be conducted by Main Street, the Chamber and the city to gather public input on how best to utilize the train station.
Following the signing of the purchase right agreement in April, Honsey stated "we won't be making any decisions on what to do with the building without the involvement of the public," and he is still standing firm behind this statement.
In the meantime, Main Street and the Chamber are preparing for a market study of the city, called the Dander Study, scheduled to be conducted by the Poggemeyer Design Group. Included in this city-wide study will be the Depot.
With the purchase of the Depot, Main Street has plans in the works to hold a 100th birthday celebration for the Depot sometime during the city's Christmas festivities. The Depot was originally dedicated to Galion in December 1900 and was listed with the National Historic Preservation Office in 1975.
Chambers said the purchasing of the Depot is definitely a move the city and its residents can be proud of.
From an article published in the Galion Inquirer on Tuesday, August 15, 2000
Is the Big Four Depot a bargain for the city?
by Pamela Dawson
City of Galion representatives are trying to figure out what they would do with the Big Four Depot if the building and grounds are purchased by the city.
Linda Chambers, Mainstreet Galion Manager, would welcome your input on the future of our historic Big Four Depot. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
A walk-through of the depot was conducted earlier this week by Bill Lotz, a state certified building inspector working with the city, Scott Heacock, project manager at Poggemeyer Design Group, Main Street Galion Manager Linda Chambers and Galion Area Chamber of Commerce director David Dayne.Dedicated to the city in December, 1900, the Big Four Depot was once the division headquarters for the Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati and St. Louis Railroad (the Big Four). During its glory days the Depot housed the engineering corps, the division superintendent, the trainmaster, clerks and stenographers. All trains stopped at the Depot: 32 passenger trains daily and even mail trains. It was even noted at one time for being a "whistle stop" for the campaign presidential candidates.
The Depot has always been and, still is, noted for its architectural rendering of the Queen Anne period with its largeness, elaborate interior and exterior and excessive decorations for a small town station. To add to the building's appeal its covered platform once stretched to Harding Way East. It was here that presidential candidates Al Smith (1928), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932), and Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon (1952) presented their "platform speeches" to Galionites.
According to records submitted to the National Historic Preservation Office in 1975, the stone used for the building was sandstone, which supposedly came from quarries near Amherst. Galionite Homer Longstreth is said to have done the stone masonry work for the Depot.
"We really have a special property here" said Galion City Manager Phil Honsey. "The architecture is far more significant than any other historic building in town. It has very valuable features."
Lot's opinion of the building, according to Honsey, was that it is a "solid, good building with lots of positive potential."
As a result of the train station's noted historic value and its structural stability, along with the tremendous community interest in saving the city's only remaining train station, city council requested the study be conducted. The request came on April 11, after council passed legislation authorizing the city to buy a five month, $500 purchase right from owner Bob Meeds.
"We have a few ideas and suggestions on what could be done with the Depot," said Dane. "But right now we are concentrating on obtaining confirmation on what it's going to cost to put into shape - to see if it's beneficial for the city."
Dane said a rough timetable estimate of one to two years was thrown out for the restoration of the Depot. This, he added, was simply to restore the building to where it was "ready for use."
Chambers added that because the building is listed on the National Historic Registrar, the city would be working closely with the Ohio Preservation Office through the entire rehabilitation process and there would be certain guidelines which would have to be followed. That is, she said, if the city decides to exercise it's purchase rights.
"we have not contacted any developers at this point and we are not making plans on what to do with the Depot," said Dane. That is all premature until we see what we have."
During this five month decision and research period, the city will also explore different methods of funding such as grants, highway funds (T21 funds) and local donation or seed money, said Dane. Honsey added that the city will also be looking closely at other case studies from towns which have renovated historic train stations.
Once all this information is gathered, Dane said the city would begin to determine the best use of the building, so an architect can render plans. Resolving the market potential of the building would follow, he said, as would the gathering of public input on what the city would like to see done with the Big Four Depot.
"We won't be making any decisions on what to do with the building, without the involvement of the public," said Honsey. "If the city does plan to purchase the Depot, there will be public discussions at council workshops for suggestions to be heard."
Off-the-cuff ideas which have been offered for the building include moving the Chamber, Main Street and C IC office into the depot. There was a suggestion, said Dane, to reinstall the long covered platform where a farmer's market could be placed. Keeping a restaurant and even making the Depot a bus stop for Greyhound were also mentioned as ideas.
"This is exciting for us and I feel the same way," said Chambers.
"But first steps first, " reminded Dane.
From an article published in the Galion Inquirer on Saturday, April 29, 2000]
Images from old postcards and The Galion Historical Society.
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