For the past week, Hamilton crews worked to clean up around the former CSX depot building, and starting today, a contractor will begin the process of repairing the two structures.
Most of the early efforts are getting the permitting in place to perform the work. On-site work, according to the Lithco Restoration Technology timeline presented to Hamilton City Council last week, will start after Thanksgiving.
Hamilton Director of Engineering Rich Engle said Lithco Restoration Technology, the company that performed foundation work on the two- and one-story buildings after they were relocated this past December and January , will work to preserve the locally significant buildings.
Though not much work had been performed on the buildings or sites since the late winter and early spring, city officials had been meeting and planning on its approach to restoring the building that had been neglected when owned by CSX. Hamilton leaders stopped CSX from razing the buildings by offering to buy the former train depot and relocate it about 1,500 feet north along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. It now sits on city-owned property on the corner of Maple Avenue and MLK.
Credit: Journal News
City officials wanted to find a new purpose for the historic depot, which had seen multiple presidents visit it over the decades, including Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and both Roosevelts. The plan continues to be to find an end user, like a restaurant, to repurpose the building.
Engle said the city intends to have the brick left over at the original CSX site just north of Pershing Avenue on MLK stored inside the single-story structure.
There’s a laundry list of items to accomplish on either one or both of the buildings, including making repairs to, and as needed replace, the rafters; replacing soffits and brick; installing new gutters and asphalt shingles; removing graffiti; and repairing the underlayment.
The single-story building’s roof is in better shape, Engle said, because the shingles on that structure had been previously replaced.
“There’s some damage, but not as much as on the two-story (building),” he said.
Engle added that in the southwest corner of the single-story building, there’s a section removed by CSX “in order to allow their trains to pass by it in its original location.”
Credit: Journal News
The plywood on both buildings will be removed by city staff, as well as the existing wood bracing used in the move. Plastic windows will be installed in the openings, Engle said. They will also be painted to blend in with the brick as much as possible, he said.
The two buildings were moved by Wolfe House & Building Movers in two sections, first the two-story, 220-ton brick structure and, a month later, the longer one-story, 330-ton building. Engle called that move the “most critical” part of the preservation process.
The next step was to form a committee to determine the best next steps in the preservation process.
The city’s budget for the relocation of the buildings was set by City Council at $2 million, and this latest work needed is included in that expense. It’s expected to take until the end of April to complete.
Michael D. Pitman has been a reporter in southwest Ohio since 1999. He's covered local governments in Warren and Butler counties, as well as state and national issues. He currently covers the cities of Fairfield and Hamilton.