VALPARAISO | With the goal of raising $150,000 by June 1, the Porter County Building Trades Corp. kicked off the campaign to move the Canadian National train station to the Porter County Career and Technical Center property on Thursday.
About 30 people attended the announcement held at the station on North Calumet Avenue on a rainy, cold and occasionally rainy day. They got a chance to see the interior of the station, where a 2011 calendar hung on one wall and debris, ranging from old tires to a 2003 report on CN employees' injuries and illnesses, hinted at the building's past.
Moving and preserving the 1912, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired station has the backing of the Urschel family and Task Force Tips, each of which has pledged $84,000 as a matching fund for the move, now planned for July 7.
CN Public Affairs Manager Patrick Waldron said the railroad has outgrown the building.
"We were looking to take it down, and we talked to Valparaiso about finding another use for it," Waldron said. "Many communities have depots like this and have had a similar interest in preserving it, but they were not able to make it happen."
State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, said preserving the station is "a classic example of what leadership and partnerships can bring about." Mayor Jon Costas called it "a fabulous story that exemplifies Valparaiso."
"It's people coming together to preserve a part of their heritage," Costas said. "It will be a symbol for years to come of all the partners working together."
Anyone wanting to make a donation can make out a check to "PCBTC Depot Project" and mail it to: Porter County Building Trades Corp. c/o Porter County Career and Tech Center, 1005 N. Franklin St., Valparaiso, IN 46383. All donors will be recognized in a manner to be determined during the renovation.
The building trades corporation is serving as the fundraising conduit for the project and will own the building until it is relocated to the career center site. Then it will be transferred to the school board. It will be used as training for the building trades class during the remodeling and renovation and will later serve as needed classroom space.
The move will start at 9 a.m. Saturday when volunteers remove the bricks from all but the railroad track side of the building and stack them on pallets for transfer to the school site. Dillabaugh Inc., of Crown Point, will begin excavation around the building about May 19, and on the day of the move the trains will be stopped for eight hours.
Jon Groth, career center principal and director, said he already has $1,700 in donations toward the matching donations. Questions about the project or donating can be directed to Groth at email@example.com or 531-3170 ext. 8225.