VALPARAISO — For the first time in 50 years, local residents will get a chance to step inside the historic Grand Trunk Railroad Depot at a re-christening event that will include a step toward the building’s restoration.
The Oct. 25 event will feature a ribbon cutting and new Valparaiso signs, recreated to match the signs that used to appear on the building when it served as a depot for train travelers during the 20th century.
The building was saved from planned demolition and moved in 2014 about two blocks to the Porter County Career and Technical Center at 1005 N. Franklin St. The building, still located near railroad tracks, is in the process of being transformed into additional classroom and lab space for the Career Center. Much of the work is being done by Career Center students.
Career Center Principal Jon Groth said the October event will be the first chance since the depot closed about 50 years ago for the public to see what train travelers experienced around 1912.
Work inside the building is not complete, but Groth said participants will get to see what the building looked like, and students at the career center will help create a 1912-like experience.
Marketing students will be on hand in period costumes and students in the health professional classes will demonstrate what health care was like in the early 1900s. Groth said participants will also get to see the work already done on the building that is bringing it up to 21st century standards, including new decks built by students. Plans for what the completed project will look like will also be available.
Canadian National owns the rail line that bisects the city. In 2012, CN obtained a demolition permit from the city because it no longer had a use for the former depot.
A 1991 survey of county buildings by the Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation and the state Historic Preservation Office classified the depot as “notable.” The city’s Historic Preservation Commission scrambled to find an organization willing to move the building and preserve it.
A plan was eventually developed to move the building across the tracks and a short distance to the west to the Porter County Career and Technical Center.
In July 2014 the 3,200-square-foot building made a slow, but successful move to its current site.