The wait is over. After 102 years in its location, Valparaiso’s historic Grand Trunk railroad depot is going to be taking a trip of its own! A partnership between the Porter County Career & Technical Education Center (PCCTC) and Canadian National (CN) was announced at the depot’s present location on Thursday, May 1, 2014. In addition to its first big trip, the depot will also receive a restoration and renovation into a 21st Century Learning Laboratory.
As the rain threatened to get worse, people gathered inside the depot, most recently used by Canadian National as a training facility. Just as the press conference was about to begin, however, the sprinkling slowed enough to allow the crowd to gather outside as originally hoped. The turnout included many community members, including a faculty from PCCTC, PCCTC students, State Senator Ed Charbonneau, Mayor Jon Costas, and many financial supporters of this project.
“This building was once used by our engineering forces. We have moved to a different location so this one was no longer needed for the railroad purposes. We began working on alternatives to demolishing the building. There was interest expressed in alternative uses and saving the building. Those discussions went on for many months and when the PCCTC expressed interest, we worked out the donation of the building. We’re glad to have found a user!” explained Patrick Waldron, CN Spokesperson.
Jon Groth, Director of Career and Technical Education Porter County Education Services of PCCTC has spearheaded this campaign to re-purpose the building for the past two years. His involvement continues today and his passion for the project was evident as he spoke to the group about PCCTC’s excitement for this project. Although they plan to take a few years to restore the building, the addition will help them to accommodate more students.
“I’ve never been somebody that felt like I had to make everybody happy. With what I do, I upset people occasionally; people that know me know that. But this project everybody supports! People I don’t know are stopping me. People I don’t know are calling me. People I don’t know are emailing me. The support is just across the board. It’s really great – people who support our schools, people who support historic preservation, and people that support anything that has to do with railroads or train depots and stuff, and the community,” explained Groth. “A lot of people didn’t want to see the building torn down, so that we’re going to re-purpose it just seems to have made everybody happy.”
The depot’s big trip is scheduled for July 7th, but preparations have already begun. This Saturday, May 3, starting at 9 am, everyone is invited to help pick up the paving bricks around the depot and stack them on pallets. PCCTC’s hope is to reuse them around the depot’s new location, as well.
“It’s going to be providing some additional space for the students at the PCCTC to help them help their education and hopefully prepare them for jobs in the future. We’re all trying to do more with less money and this is a great opportunity for the Valparaiso school system. It’s a great reuse of a building! I was thinking about this at a recycling thing yesterday and – by golly – we are recycling this building!” said State Senator Charbonneau.
“It comes down to leadership. Jon Groth is definitely the fellow who made this happen. He was able to get the Urschels and Stu McMillan of Task Force Tips and I don’t know who else to step up and be involved big time to be players. It’s a great example of what we often overlook in this area – how blessed we are to have great people and a great place to live,” continued Charbonneau.
The mission of this movement is “To preserve and re-purpose Valparaiso’s last train depot while providing a station for future generations to receive advanced technology instruction.” This appeals to people throughout our community and connects our past to our future in a tangible way.
You can help in many ways – attending events like the one on Saturday, making donations, and getting involved. Donations received before June 1, 2014 will be matched up to over $150,000. To donate, please make your check out to “PCBTC Depot Project” and send to
Porter County Building Trades Corp.
c/o Porter County Career and Tech Center
1005 N. Franklin St.
Valparaiso, IN 46383
For questions, please contact Jon Groth at email@example.com.