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