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Coraopolis rallies to save train station

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Sam Jampetro is a member of the foundation that owns the old Coraopolis train station and is starting a fundraising effort to restore the architecturally significant property and attract businesses such as a cafe.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Sam Jampetro sits outside the old Coraopolis train station, Friday, May 9, 2014. Jampetro is a member of the foundation that owns the old building and is starting a fund-raising effort to restore the architecturally significant property and attract businesses such as a cafe.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Sam Jampetro walks through the empty old Coraopolis train station, Friday, May 9, 2014. Jampetro is a member of the foundation that owns the old building and is starting a fund-raising effort to restore the architecturally significant property and attract businesses such as a cafe.

At first glance, the Coraopolis Railroad Station appears rundown, but a closer look reveals a piece of history that Coraopolis residents have rallied to save.

Named by Preservation Pennsylvania this year as one of the most endangered historical sites in the state, the train station was built in 1895 in Richardsonian Romanesque style based on a design by architects Shepley Rutan and Coolidge.

About eight years ago, four families who wanted to help restore the station bought the building that had been abandoned about 30 years ago and began what came to be known as the Coraopolis Community Development Foundation. The organizers are planning a video, an online fundraising campaign and other efforts.

“The train station is a symbol for our town, our town that had been thriving at one point and now that is pretty beaten down,” said Randon Willard of Coraopolis, a member of the foundation. “Our goal is to restore it and see some great life back into the town.”

The station is in poor condition and is in danger of becoming beyond easy repair, Willard said. The first plan of action would be to get a new roof on the building, he said.

The goal then would be to repair the station and have it operate as a small cafe and visitor stop, said Sam Jampetro, pastor at Charis247 Community Church, an Anglican church in Coraopolis, and a member of the foundation. As one of the owners of the station, he would like to display artifacts from Coraopolis' past.

“Our vision is to restore the building, and so reframe the symbol from one of despair to one of hope and possibility and belief in what can be accomplished when we work together,” Jampetro said.

Willard said the foundation has been applying for grants and making connections.

Resident Leo Rubino said he has lived in Coraopolis his whole life and is enthusiastic about saving this local piece of history.

“I drive past the station almost every day and wonder what will happen to this building,” he said.

“Once I found out the plans of turning it into a café, I was immediately on board. The fellow citizens of the town and I truly believe that the station is a symbol of what the town was and what the town can be again.”

Allie Salina is a freelance writer.

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