Old train depot is too weak to move

The old Ridgefield train station depot building will be replicated, complete with tracks running in front of it, at the Ridgefield Supply Company’s property, under a plan that will reuse parts of the old building that can be saved. The rendering is by architect Dave Scott of the Ridgefield Historical Society.

The old Ridgefield train station depot building will be replicated, complete with tracks running in front of it, at the Ridgefield Supply Company’s property, under a plan that will reuse parts of the old building that can be saved. The rendering is by architect Dave Scott of the Ridgefield Historical Society.

The Ridgefield Historic Society has studied the Victorian train station located on the Ridgefield Supply property downtown and determined that moving it doesn’t appear to be an option.

A revised plan to dismantle and replace the old train depot was given a consensus approval by Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at the Town Hall Annex. The original plan, approved as part of a expansion plan for Ridgefield Supply, was to move it on the lumber company’s site. That’s been dropped.

“Our biggest issue is we’re going to pick it up and it’s going to fall down,” Margaret Price, proprietor of Ridgefield Supply, told the commission.

Representatives of Ridgefield Supply and their architect, Philip Doyle of Landscape Architectural Design Associates, described their plans to dismantle the depot and rebuild it on a code-compliant shell in exact replica, reusing whatever original parts can be saved.

“Eighty-five percent of the building can’t be saved,” Craig Sinclair, vice president of Ridgefield Supply, told the commission. “We’re dismantling the building and saving what we can and doing a facsimile replication of the building.”

Though the building is falling apart, knowing what it looked like in its heyday won’t be difficult.

“We have photographs,” Sinclair said.

At the suggestion of architect Dave Scott, a member of the Ridgefield Historical Society, Ridgefield Supply will be putting some train tracks in front of the relocated replica/reconstruction, which will include a wooden plank waiting platform.

“We appreciate what you’re doing,” Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Rebecca Mucchetti said.

The old depot building may be seen in the front lot of Ridgefield Supply. When Ridgefield Supply’s large-scale renovations plans were approved, it was with the understanding that the old depot would be somehow preserved.

Before coming to Planning and Zoning Commission with the revised plan, Ridgefield Supply got the support of the Ridgefield Historical Society.

“The stress would cause it to disintegrate,” Nancy Selander, president of the society, said in a Sept. 3 letter to town Planning Director Betty Brosius.

The letter was co-signed by Kay Ables, town historian.

“It is in very bad shape,” Selander and Ables said of the building. “One sidewall is buckling. The platform is missing. The inside walls have no insulation and you can see light through the boards.”

The historical society typically supports deconstructing a building and reconstructing it in a new location, or moving it intact, but those options just don’t seem possible for the old depot.

“They’ll use architectural features that can be saved,” Brosius said.

The historical society thanked Ridgefield Supply for trying to save the original depot.

And Planning and Zoning Commission members thanked them for the revised plan to save a few parts and replicate the rest.

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