Former Coraopolis train station in midst of transformation
Ten years after a local group's purchase, the first phase of restoration work at the long-vacant Coraopolis train station is complete.
The station, on Mill Street between Third and Fourth avenues, was built in 1896 and purchased in 2006 by the Coraopolis Community Development Foundation — a nonprofit whose mission is to rebuild Coraopolis through community service and community development — and was a vibrant part of Coraopolis' past. The foundation's goal is a $1.3-million plan to turn the train station into an events center and café.
“Phase one was to basically weatherproof things and solidify the structure, because there was some major structural issues, so that was kind of our biggest push,” said Stacy Christie, who leads writing grant proposals, web design and document archival of the relics found during the restoration project. “We don't want this to degrade any further — we want to definitely get a leg up and make sure we're not losing any ground.”
The first phase took about $75,000 to complete, and the second will need at least $300,000, said Shawn Reed, a member of the board of the development foundation and the rail station project's chairman. The second phase includes detailed renovations to the exterior, including the canopy.
To come up with the funding, the organization has been applying for grants over the past two months and looking for other ways to fundraise, including crowdfunding websites such as Indiegogo. Within the next month the foundation should know if it has made the cut for any of the grants, Reed said.
“We've got a lot of positive expectations that some of the foundation requests will come through, so construction will restart again in June even if we are leveraging for additional private money,” Reed said.
The foundation also has used direct mailing to houses to ask for donations. But sometimes, the organization gets more than money in return.
“What we've been hearing from the community is how important the station is and was in their lives at one point, whether it was a father, a grandfather, an uncle that went off for the war or came back from the war on that station. Some people came from other countries, they came from Ellis Island into Coraopolis. It was an important stop over and a lot of folks saw their families for the first time at this station,” said Reed.
The final passenger train ran through the station in 1985, according to the local history book “Coraopolis.”
Vince Russo is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.