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Renovated station unveiled

July 20, 1998

photo: MIKE CRUPI / staff photographer

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Renovated StationBy KERRY LYNN FRALEY / Staff Writer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Shepherdstown resident Betty Osbourn doesn't really remember what her town's Norfolk & Western Railway train station looked like when it was still being used for passenger traffic.

"I was too young, I guess," said Osbourn, 68, who said she never got the opportunity to ride a train from there before it closed to passengers in 1957.

Still, she was curious to see the fruit of years of restoration efforts at the small brick station, which was opened to tours for the first time Sunday afternoon.

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"They did a good job. It's beautiful," said Osbourn, one of more than 100 people who dropped in for a look.

The open house was for members of The Station at Shepherdstown Inc., a nonprofit organization formed in 1992 to oversee the renovation effort for the town and administer operations once it reopens, said President Joseph "Jack" Snyder.

Snyder spearheaded the effort in 1990 after learning Norfolk Southern was planning to build a signal maintenance building that would render the old station useless.

To prevent it from getting torn down, Snyder put together an informal committee that was able to get the Town Council to grant it negotiating powers with the railroad under the auspices of the Historic Shepherdstown Commission, he said.

In 1992, with the help of U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., the committee was able to land a $500,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Snyder said.

That was just enough to cover external restoration of the run-down building, used only for storage since the early 1960s, and renovation of its bathroom facilities, he said.

Mayor Vincent Parmesano was able to negotiate a deal with the railroad to give the town the land and building, Snyder said.

The Station at Shepherdstown Inc., was set up as a membership organization to undertake the costly task of restoring the interior of the building, he said.

The day also included dedication of the road along the station to former Shepherdstown Mayor Audrey Egle. A formal dedication and reopening is scheduled for the fall, but no date has been set, he said.

It took three months of weekends to complete the interior paint job in Boston cream with Athenian green trim, Snyder said. The fir wood floors are set to get their last coat of varnish this week, he said.

The station still needs a heating and cooling system, which will be installed in two stages using state money earmarked by the Legislature, Snyder said.

Uses for three of the station's four rooms have already been designated, he said.

The 960-square-foot main waiting room will be a community room, available for rent for weddings, group meetings and other events, Snyder said.

The room next to it, which used to house the dispatcher and ticket sellers, will be office space for The Station at Shepherdstown Inc., and the Jefferson County Schools' new area coordinator, he said.

The smaller waiting room on the other side will be used by Good Shepherd Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, Snyder said.

The station, built in 1908, has two waiting rooms because segregation was still in effect then, he said. The smaller waiting room was for black passengers.

The station also had two sets of men's and women's bathrooms, Snyder said. The bathroom area was renovated into two larger handicapped-accessible bathrooms and a coffee area.

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