VALPARAISO | Passengers have long since stopped getting off at the train depot next to the Canadian National tracks on North Calumet Avenue, but preservationists are hoping to save the century-old station from the wrecking ball.
The city's Historic Preservation Commission is meeting today in hopes of finding someone interested in acquiring the building and moving it. The railroad no longer needs the building and obtained a demolition permit to remove it.
Those interested in saving the station have called for the preservation commission's help.
The city's preservation ordinance can delay demolition up to 45 days to seek ways of saving any structure of historical significance. A 1991 survey of county buildings by the Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation and the state Historic Preservation Office classified the depot as "notable."
Tiffany Tolbert, a consultant to the foundation from the city commission, said the railroad line was one of the earliest in the city. Research by Larry Clark, of the Valparaiso Public Library's genealogy department, showed the depot was built around 1904 after a fire that destroyed the second depot at that location.
It was considered as the possible site of a depot for a proposed extension of a South Shore commuter rail line to Valparaiso before city officials settled on the former Amtrak station location. The railroad used the depot for storage for many years, but now wants to tear it down before it falls into disrepair.
"We've been in talks with the city since the issue of demolition came up, and we're trying to come up with a plan to find someone to buy it and move it," Tolbert said. "The railroad has agreed to delay demolition to at least the end of November. It's in pretty good condition, but the railroad is not using it and they would like to clear the site."
A spokesman for Canadian National declined comment.
Clark said the depot originally served the Peninsular Railroad in the 1870s before it was bought by the Chicago and Port Huron Railroad. A link ran past the former Valparaiso Technical Institute to the Baum's Hotel on the site of what is now the Franklin House.
Assistant City Planner Taylor Wegrzyn said the city has some leads of people possibly interested in preserving the station but nothing is solid yet. The railroad and others wanting to save the building have been invited to attend the preservation commission's meeting at 11 a.m. today at Valparaiso City Hall.