Hobart's Pennsy Depot ode to rise of rail transporation

2011-04-03T00:00:00Z Hobart's Pennsy Depot ode to rise of rail transporationBy Elin Christianson President of Hobart Historical Society nwitimes.com

Hobart's Pennsylvania Railroad Station, known familiarly as the Pennsy Depot, stands as a reminder of the importance of the development of rail transportation in the 19th century, not only to Hobart but also to the region as a whole.

Built in 1911, the Pennsy Depot is 100 years old this year.

The Hobart depot, which is the third one at that location, is a combination freight and passenger station. Although many small combination stations had a bay on the track side so the station master could control traffic, Hobart's does not because it was in a high traffic area. Traffic was controlled from a tower to the east of the station. The interior layout includes a baggage and freight room on the east end, waiting room and ticket office in the center and a ladies waiting room to the west.

The depot is Colonial Revival in style. Characteristics include the hipped roof, gabled porticoes and curved soffits that tie the extended roof line to the brick walls. Ceramic tile inserts in the brick cap borders and in the concrete pediment ornament the building as do the semicircular transom windows in the gables. It was built with pressed brick from the Kulage brickyard in town. Architects were Price & McDanahan, of Philadelphia, a firm that designed many of the Pennsylvania Railroad's stations in that era.

The railroad vacated the depot in the 1970s. The building was used for storage until 1982 when Conrail, which had taken over the line, announced plans to dispose of it. A group of Hobart residents, led by Mayor Cal Green, banded together as the "Save Our Station" committee to purchase and restore it. Committee members included the mayor and Marcie Green, Ed Prentiss, Chuck and Shirley Flick,  Anthony Cefali, Bill and Virginia Curtis, Dick Harrigan, David Katz, Bob Krull, Jerry Pavese, Peggy Schammert, Dave Wilson and me.

Aided by financial contributions, rental income and donated labor, the depot's renovation and restoration was completed. Tenants during this time were Indiana Camp Supply, Fine Line Precision Drafting, Depot Decor and Made in U.S.A. The last major project, the replacement of the copper gutters and downspouts, was carried out through a Hometown Indiana grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation and Archeology.

In 2004, the Save Our Station committee turned the depot over to the city of Hobart, and it became the headquarters for the Hobart Chamber of Commerce. Two years ago chamber executive director Mike Adams created some excitement, reporting ghostly experiences in the depot. Indiana Ghost Trackers was called in, but nothing conclusive was found.

To reach PastTimes page coordinator Pat Kincaid email: patricia.kincaid@nwi.com or call (219) 933-3383.

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