By Paula Schleis
HUDSON: A century-old prairie-style train depot — once the passion of a citizens group that attempted to raise money to move and preserve it — was quietly razed Friday.
The abandoned depot was once an important junction on the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Cleveland-Pittsburgh line, a place where World War II soldiers said farewell before heading to the front, and passengers boarded the locally famous Doodlebug to reach businesses and stores throughout the region.
Its current owners, Norfolk Southern Railway, had given the community years to find a way to save it, but not enough interest could be generated.
The depot sat just north of the trestle that crosses state Route 303 near Library Street.
Because the building had no operational value to the railroad, and because there were safety concerns over trespassers and vandals, “we got to a point where we said, OK, the preservation or movement of this station isn’t going to take place, so we’ve got to act,” railroad spokesman David Pidgeon said.
The effort to save the depot began in 2005 and ended four years later.
All Aboard Hudson, formed by a group of local residents, only collected $5,000 toward the cost of preserving the 60-foot-by-30-foot building, which was built some time in the first decade of the 20th century.
At the time, group organizers suggested it could cost up to half a million dollars to find a new location for the structure, move it, and restore it.
When the group disbanded in 2009, it donated all it had collected — including a switching light, model of the depot and historic newspaper clippings — to the Hudson Library & Historical Society.
The society’s Gwen Mayer said she expects to use the material in some future display.
Mayer said the depot torn down was the third to have been erected in Hudson.
“Certainly, we’re sad to see the building demolished, but we understand without a purpose, or money, or a place, you can’t possibly preserve everything,” she said.
Dave Mangold, a Portage County train historian and a locomotive engineer, was heartbroken that the Hudson depot wasn’t saved.
“We’re losing our history in Northeast Ohio,” he said.
He said he made arrangements to pick up some corner posts and structural bricks from the demolished building.
“It’s just one of those morbid things I do to remember the old structures,” he said. “It’s a shame that’s all that’s left.”
The city of Hudson, however, had the last word Friday.
After demolition crews moved out, the building department moved in and tacked a zoning code violation on a piece of equipment left behind.
“Demolition of structure requires approval and demo permit,” the notice said, suggesting the permit had not been acquired.