Pittsfield seeking donations to restore historic train station

Posted Feb. 05, 2012, at 4:06 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 06, 2012, at 11:10 a.m.

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PITTSFIELD, Maine — Standing for more than 130 years, the historic train depot in Pittsfield has plenty of history to tell.

Right now, it’s screaming for a new roof and other renovations.

Town Manager Kathryn Ruth and the Pittsfield Historical Society, which is housed in the building, have applied for a Historic Preservation Grant to fix the structure.

“It’s in pretty rough shape,” said Pittsfield Historical Society President Breanna Norris. “The roof is coming off a shingle at a time. The paint is chipping away.”

But unlike other grants the town has been able receive, this one needs a 25 percent cash match. The town has $22,370 set aside but is still $20,000 short. The town has until March to raise the money.

“We’re fundraising as fast as we can,” said Ruth. “We have one month. There are few grant programs out there for historic buildings. Rarely does a grant opportunity come around of this significant nature.”

The grant will allow for the building to have many of its needs completed at once. Aside from the deteriorating roof, the building also needs restoration on the siding, which contains lead paint. The windows, trim and doors need restoration along with the addition of an attic and crawl space insulation. The bathroom and flooring need rehabilitation, and interior painting of plaster and woodwork also is needed. Electric components need upgrading, and the furnace room needs to be fire-rated.

The estimated cost of the renovations is $167,370, said Ruth. The town’s share is $42,370.

“It’s very, very important that we raise the money for this grant. It allows us to do all the work at once instead of chipping away at it,” she said.

The building, built in 1880, houses many historic documents and artifacts of Pittsfield’s history. It’s also one of the last remaining train depots in the state, said Ruth. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1980, and is one of four buildings in town on the register.

Because it’s on the register, specific guidelines must be followed in order to restore the building. That means it’s more expensive than a normal building restoration would be, said Ruth.

So far, neither the town nor the historical society has organized a fundraising event, but they are open to ideas, said Ruth.

Many people have offered donations, said Norris, but others who can’t afford to donate money have offered to donate their time.

“That was a really great thing coming out of this,” said Norris, adding that a person donated a quilt to the historical society that will be raffled off.

Norris said everyone from train enthusiasts to people interested in historical items visit the train station, which has a restored caboose behind it.

“We use the depot as our museum. There are lots of town artifacts, Civil War memorabilia, guns, items from doctors’ offices, lots of photos,” said Norris. “We have items from Moses Martin, one of the first homesteaders in town.”

Although the building won’t disappear without the grant, it is the cheapest and easiest way for it to be restored, said Ruth.

“If there are people who like history or preserving history, and like to come look through the town’s history, this is definitely the project to contribute towards,” said Ruth.

Those interested in donating should call the Pittsfield Town Office at 487-3136.

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