Whitewater to restore train depot
If you go
What: Public information meeting about restoration of the historic train depot restoration project
When: 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 16.
Where: Community Room, Whitewater City Hall, 312 W. Whitewater St., Whitewater.
WHITEWATER The Whitewater Historical Society could be in its new digs in time for the summer tour season next year.
The historic train depot, which for years has housed the historical society and its extensive collection of documents, photographs and other items and functioned as a local history museum, is getting a facelift, said Ellen Penwell, president of the historical society.
The city is holding a public information meeting Monday about the restoration project.
The depot in Cravath Lakefront Park downtown is aging and needs some rehabilitation, Penwell said.
The interior and exterior of the building, a Victorian Gothic-style structure built in 1890, will be restored to their original conditions, she said.
The floors, ceilings and windows will be replaced or refurbished; the electrical, plumbing and heating and cooling systems will be brought up to code and made more energy efficient; and the basement will be waterproofed, she said.
"It's a really big project," Penwell said.
The project is estimated to cost $400,000. The city will use a $320,000 federal transportation enhancement grant it received in 2008 and will contribute $40,000 to the project, she said. The historical society has raised $40,000 for the project by selling memorial bricks and hopes to raise $20,000 more to re-install its collection and improve its displays, she said.
The city and the society have been working with Isthmus Architecture of Madison to design the restoration, Penwell said.
The society plans to use the former passenger holding area to display a chronological history of Whitewater, she said. It also wants to convert the former ticket office to a quiet research room and change the former smoking room to a featured exhibit gallery, she said.
"We're rethinking our vision of the depot," Penwell said. "We're rethinking our history and trying to use our collection in a new and novel way."
The society also wants to install a unisex bathroom, make the building handicapped accessible and use the basement for offices and storage, she said.
"All of those ideas have to be merged with our desire to rehabilitate the space to historic guidelines," Penwell said.
Plans for the restoration project must be submitted to the state Department of Transportation in October, she said. The plans need to be reviewed and approved, and construction could start early next year, she said.
The depot has been closed for much of the summer because the historical society anticipated the restoration to get under way much sooner than it has, Penwell said. The depot has been open only for special events, such as the upcoming Taste of Whitewater in late September, to tell people coming to the downtown park about the project and get feedback, she said.