By Peggy Mackenzie
The plight of the Lewisburg and Ronceverte depot has spread far and wide and may even be the subject of an episode on “This Old House” TV show. The calls and emails are coming in, says Skip Deegans, a member of Lewisburg’s Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC). Several parties have shown interest in rescuing the historic structure, he said.
Among the options on the table is news that a donor has stepped forward offering $75,000 toward the project. The Greenbrier Historical Society hopes to find a way to match that figure so that they can relocate the depot on a site next to the barracks in downtown Lewisburg. In that way, it will remain in the historic district and under the oversight of the historical society. But, if that funding is not available, there are still other parties interested in the building.
The depot, situated on a corner on Echols Lane, has been a private residence for 50 years. The owners have patiently opted to wait out the winter and remain in the building until spring before going forward with their plans to replace the depot with a modular structure.
Even with the time extension, the potential for demolishing the old depot is still a possibility. For the HLC and the Greenbrier Historical Society, investment in the depot’s preservation has been draining, as various options to move the structure materialize, disappear and show up again. As each interested party approaches, Deegans says, the assessment of the challenges are dealt with over and over.
Moving it would likely involve disassembling the roof and transporting the structure in two pieces. Power lines, tree limbs, narrow or steep roadways along the transport route have to be taken into account. The building itself is in need of restoration, giving interested parties further cause to reevaluate the expense of taking on the project. And then there is the issue of how it will maintain itself once in place at another location – as a residence, as a concession, and or as an historic resource. Nonfeasibility and inadequate resources have figured as reasons for abandoning the project.
Still, it is hoped the L&R depot can be used as an educational opportunity for an important artifact of the American railway experience, and as the only surviving example of what appears to be a nearly exact C&O Standard No. 1 station. The HLC and the historic society remain persevering and unwavering in their hopes of a new home for the relic.