All Aboard

Times-Record - - Front Page - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com

RIDGELY — The Town of Ridgely cel­e­brated Wed­nes­day, April 5, the ground­break­ing for the Ridgely Train Sta­tion ren­o­va­tions.

The his­toric rail­road de­pot, along Belle and Rail­road streets in down­town Ridgely, opened in 1892. Ridgely’s first rail­road sta­tion, built by

the Mar yland and Bal­ti­more City Land As­so­ci­a­tion, stood near the Cen­tral Av­enue cross­ing since the town’s birth in 1867. The sec­ond floor of the sta­tion pro­vided the first school for Ridgely un­til 1872. Then in 1892, Ridgely’s brick rail­road sta­tion was built with a porch, pro­tect­ing pa­trons from rain show­ers and sum­mer heat.

The Ridgely His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety took the lead in the grant writ­ing process to se­cure funds to re­store the town build­ing. The project costs $407,700, with $326,160 com­ing from a Fed­eral Trans­porta­tion Al­ter­na­tives Pro­gram Grant, $47,482 from a Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources Project Open Space Grant, $3,500 in do­na­tions from the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety and $30,128 from the Town of Ridgely.

The rail­road sta­tion will then be turned into an in­ter­pre­tive cen­ter for the town, to go along with the Rails to Tails and the his­toric Tele­phone Ex­change Build­ing next door.

Ren­o­va­tions will in­cluded a cov­ered deck sur­round­ing the de­pot on four sides, and the con­struc­tion of the roof over the deck along with re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing the in­te­rior of the build­ing. Ed Bom­baro is the ar­chi­tect who de­signed the project.

Cathy and Rick Sch­wab of the Ridgely His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety led the cer­e­mony.

“We have been so happy to get on board with the Town of Ridgely who have had this vi­sion for a long time,” Cathy Sch­wab said. “This has been a great ef­fort with a lot of peo­ple. This is a dream of Nancy Gearhart.

“We have been so lucky,” she said. “Caro­line County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety has pointed us in the right di­rec­tion many times, and has given us a lot of ad­vice.

“The train sta­tion was the hub of the town,” she said. “This is where peo­ple came. We’ve had base­ball he­roes come in and out back in the day. Jim­mie Foxx would come here to play with Home Run Baker.

“This is where Brenda Walls hosts her Ridgely car show with rac­ing leg­end Richard Petty,” she said. “She puts Ridgely on the map with her car show.”

Rick Sch­wab thanked Caro­line County His­to­rian J.O.K. Walsh for lead­ing the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety to the grant fund­ing. He also thanked the town’s staff, for­mer Sen. Richard Col­burn, Sen. Ad­die Eckardt and for­mer Del. Jean­nie Had­daway-Ric­cio for help­ing with the project.

Ridgely Pub­lic Works Di­rec­tor David Crist is the project man­ager for the restora­tion.

“This town is awe­some,” Cathy Sch­wab said. “We are trans­plants, and we can­not be­lieve the his­tory in this town. It is awe­some what we find here.

“We are proud to help re­store this train sta­tion dur­ing the town’s 150th An­niver­sary,” she said. “All of you that are here have had some­thing to do with the story. This county is rich in story.”

The restora­tion is ex­pected to be com­pleted in late sum­mer, early fall of 2017.

“This build­ing re­ally is a land­mark for the town,” said Town Coun­cil Pres­i­dent An­thony Casey. “So many peo­ple come out here to en­joy this build­ing. We want to thank the Sch­wabs and the Ridgely His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety for se­cur­ing the fund­ing and plan­ning the restora­tion project.

“We are very ex­cited to be able to ren­o­vate it, and get good use out of it,” he said. “We feel that this is a great step in preserving the his­tory of our town.”

Ridgely com­mis­sion­ers John Buckle and John Hur­ley joined Casey at the ground­break­ing along with Caro­line County Com­mis­sion­ers Wil­bur Le­ven­good, Larry Porter and Dan Franklin.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Cathy and Rick Sch­wab of the Ridgely His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety lead the ground­break­ing on Wed­nes­day, April 5, for the town’s train sta­tion restora­tion project.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

The Town of Ridgely breaks ground Wed­nes­day, April 5, on the town’s train sta­tion restora­tion project.

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