The two relocated CSX train depot buildings have been sitting at the corner of Maple Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Hamilton for several months, but city officials say they haven’t forgotten about the historic structures.
This past December and January, Wolfe House & Building Movers relocated the two sections of the former train depot, first the two-story, 220-ton brick structure and then the longer one-story, 330-ton building.
Hamilton officials had talked about saving the former train depot since 2020 after CSX officials indicated their desire to raze the buildings previously adjacent to the railroad tracks just north of Pershing Avenue.
Credit: Nick Graham
Credit: Nick Graham
“After years of benign neglect, the city made the difficult financial decision to step in and preserve an important part of our community’s history by funding the relocation of the CSX depot,” said City Manager Joshua Smith.
He said the “most critical” part of the preservation process was relocating the depot buildings to city-owned property. Then, before investing additional city dollars, a committee was formed to determine the best next steps in the preservation process.
Hamilton Director of Engineering Rich Engle said several items still need to be addressed before the city could say it is done with the project.
“We’re focused on developing costs for roof replacement, exterior brick restoration, and whatever possible window restoration or replacement might occur after that,” said Engle.
The committee had a recent presentation by Lithco Restoration Technology, though Engle said, “We’re still working through that information and getting more information to share with the committee.”
Smith said the immediate next steps would be to finalize masonry repairs (about $25,000) and to replace the roof (about $100,000). The city would also need to further secure the envelope of the building.
“Once these activities are completed, the city will meet with prospective end users of the building, so further investment is not wasted,” Smith said.
Just before Christmas 2022 and a month later in January, the two buildings were relocated about 1,500 feet up MLK Jr. Boulevard with the hope the city could 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.
Engle said he plans to update Hamilton City Council when more progress on the buildings’ restoration process.
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.