The restoration of a circa 1884 train depot at Century Village in Grove City is on track to be completed in time for the Old Time Harvest Festival in October at the park.

The park at 4185 Orders Road features a variety of historic buildings, most from the Grove City area. It is designed to help visitors experience life as it was in the late 1800s with a one-room schoolhouse, log cabin, barn and working blacksmith forge.

With most of the exterior work on the depot completed, the focus will be on restoring the interior to the time when the depot served as a stop for trains at the intersection of Front and Park streets.

"We are working to have the depot look as much as possible as it did when it was a working station on the railroad line," said John Hines, Southwest Franklin County Historical Society.

The depot was moved in January 2018 from its original location in downtown Grove City. The city and historical society began a joint project to restore the building.

The depot is 16 feet wide and 38 foot long, Hines said.

The building will be repainted yellow to match its original hue when it was constructed in 1884 for the Midland Railroad company, he said.

"The color was known as 'Midland yellow" because it was the color all of their train stations were painted," Hines said.

After Midland was purchased by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the depot was painted red, he said.

"I'm not sure why, but I guess some people didn't like the yellow color," Hines said.

Once the restoration is completed, the interior will include separate men's and women's waiting rooms, a ticket window and a freight room.

"Back in the 19th century, men and women would not congregate in the same room," Hines said. "The freight room was where all the freight -- whether it was produce, animals or merchandise -- would be kept before it was being shipped out on a train or after it had arrived on an incoming train."

The waiting rooms will include the depot's original bead-board paneling, he said.

City crews have installed new siding and a roof on the building, put in new flooring and refurbished the windows and transoms, Hines said.

Although there still are several months of work before the restoration is completed, the depot was open June 1 during the annual Heritage Days Celebration at Century Park.

"We wanted to give people a chance to step inside and see what's been done so far to the depot," Hines said. "We weren't giving any tours, but they (could) get a look."

When the restoration is completed, tours will be offered during open houses held on the fourth Saturdays between May and September, he said.

"It's going to bring new people to Century Village, because railroad fans will make a special trip just to see an old depot," Hines said.

At least four model railroad clubs have expressed interest in displaying and running their train sets in the freight room, he said.

City crews completed most of the exterior repairs and initial interior work before the remainder of the project was handed off earlier this year to the historical society.

"They were able to do the work with $60,000 that was allocated for the project," Hines said. "We're going to be able to do the rest of the work at very little cost because we're able to arrange for volunteer help."

A portion of the wood frame from the office that was in place when the depot ended its run as a train station was donated to the historical society by Darryl Cooper, who served as the last agent/operator for two years at the train depot.

Cooper, who lives in Mount Sterling and worked 42 years before retiring from the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in 1986, has visited the depot a number of times during its restoration.

"It brings back a lot of memories," he said. "It makes me think of the time when the local train depot was the focal point of the community because that's how people traveled to and from town and where most of the goods arrived.

"You could transport something by train a lot cheaper than you could by truck, but people wanted things delivered the next day. They didn't want to wait 10 days, and that's what helped decimate the railroads," Cooper said.

It's important that vintage depots be saved and restored, Cooper said.

"I salute the communities like Grove City that recognize the importance of preserving old depots rather than let them rot or tearing them down," he said. "It's an important part of our heritage."

Cooper began working at a railroad in Indiana in 1944 while still in high school.

He said he has memorabilia from his years working on the railroad, including old tariff books, that he plans to donate for display at the depot.

The last passenger train left the depot on July 20, 1956. Freight service ended in 1972.

The building was used by the local Jaycees for meetings and the historical society also held meetings in the old depot, Hines said. The building has sat idle for the last two decades.

Another possible addition to the depot site may be an old caboose that the Jaycees renovated and placed in the mid-1970s adjacent to the depot, he said.

The caboose was later moved to Green's Heritage Village in Commercial Point, where it remains today.

"We'd like to restore it and bring it back to the depot at Century Village," Hines said. "If that doesn't happen, we'll probably look at donating it to railroad museum in Dayton (the James F. Dicke Family Transportation Center at Carillon Historical Park)."

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