Monday, April 30, 2012

Train station restoration full steam ahead

THOMASTON, Conn. (WTW) — The whirring of an orbital sander resonated off fresh drywall in the Thomaston Train Station on a recent day as volunteer John King of Southington prepared the surface for paint. Windows, original to the 1881 train station but removed and carefully restored over the winter, are primed and ready for paint in time for the Railroad Museum of New England's season opening in May. Although the projects may seem mundane, they are giant steps for the nonprofit museum that has been working to restore the train station since 1996.

"It was pretty much an eyesore for quite a few years," said Kevin J. Meehan, a volunteer. The ceiling, which fell down in an arson fire in 1994, hadn't fully been repaired until last winter when drywall was laid over insulation that hung exposed from the rafters. Windows on the west side of the building, some of which were so rotten that Meehan had to shrink wrap their sashes so their shape would be preserved on their way to a builder, were restored by Torrington Sash and Door Co.

Celeste Echlin, museum president, said the group is steaming ahead with projects and hopes to tackle more work after the train station is designated as a historic place. That, she said, should come after a May 2 hearing with the State Historic Preservation Office and will open the door to grants to help fund substantial projects, like repointing the aged brick facade.

The museum has also applied for a Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation grant to pay for an architect to assess the building and focus on future projects, she said.

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