Next stop for Aberdeen's old B&O station is a new foundation

When will Aberdeen's derelict former B&O Railroad Station finally see new life?

Before the 129-year-old former B&O Railroad station in Aberdeen can be used again, the historic building has to get its feet on the ground, so to speak.

It will also be getting new people in charge of its restoration and future use.

The building has been sitting on cribbing blocks, after being jacked up and moved 50 feet further from the CSX tracks off of West Bel Air Avenue in December.

Maryanna Skowronski, director of The Historical Society of Harford County, which managed the move, said Tuesday the foundation should be built by spring.

"We are just waiting for the weather to clear so we can start on the foundation," Skowronski promised, explaining the foundation will be built to meet the contour of the building.

The Aberdeen Room Archives and Museum, the city's main history repository, will then take over the dilapidated building from the Historical Society in hopes of breathing new life into the derelict building, Aberdeen Room's Charlotte Cronin said.

The call will be going out for volunteers of all stripes – plumbers, movers, "anyone who can donate their services" – to help make the building usable again, Cronin said Wednesday.

"We are just open to anything," she said regarding donations and work on the building.

Maryland Portable Concrete, Vulcan and York Building Products are among the companies that are contributing materials for the foundation work, Skowronski said.

The Aberdeen Room, meanwhile, will consider moving into the former train stop when it's finally renovated, which could still be a ways off, depending on how that work is done.

"Right now, we are just looking to get it rehabilitated," Cronin cautioned, but she said museum leaders would be interested in relocating from their existing storefront headquarters on Howard Street downtown.

"It would be very nice if we could do that," she said.

Although the train station does not "have all the room in the world," it has a second story with an office, Cronin said and it would definitely "be historic."

The old station had been considered for commercial uses, such as a restaurant, Skowronski told city officials last year when they began pushing for something to either happen on the renovation front or they would consider razing it.

A restaurant now seems unlikely, however, Jon Livezey, the Aberdeen Room's treasurer, said.

He said a restaurant is "probably impractical" because of the small amount of parking available on the site.

"There's just a myriad of possibilities," Livezey said. "The first thing, I think, will be to restore the outside so it looks like it did when it was the original rail station."

The building should potentially look similar to its former self, in its glory days of the late 1800s, when it served passengers on the old B&O line between Washington, D.C., and New York City.

"Before the move, we salvaged the majority of the historic brick facade, so all of that brick will be reused for the new [building]," the Historical Society's Skowronski said.

Those interested in architectural preservation have called the train station a unique piece of local history.

As Livezey pointed out: "It is a significant architectural building."

Cronin conceded the reopening of the station may be a very long time in coming but the wait will be worth it.

"That will be a happy, happy day," she said.

Copyright © 2017, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
37°