HEBRON — Fund raising efforts are underway to restore and move the town’s only remaining train building by June.
Members of the Hebron Historical Society are trying to raise $5,000 to restore the 19th-century building that they hope will be moved to a leased site at the entrance to the Hebron Station School from it’s current site just down the street near the Storekeeper in front of the Town Garage.
The group of volunteers has created a GoFundMe page ( www.gofundme.com/east-hebron-maine-train-building) that provides information about the project and a history of the East Hebron Station.
The Board of Selectmen has required that the building be moved offsite by June, but members of the Historical Society still need to raise money for the restoration.
“To lose this visual reminder of Hebron’s rail history and obvious connection as the school’s namesake would be an unconscionable lost opportunity for preserving the town’s railroad history,” said Society member Conrad Conant in a statement to the Advertiser Democrat.
Although originally thought to be East Hebron’s train depot, the building is now believed to have been used as a freight building. It is considered important historically because it remains the only part of the Hebron railroad complex that exists today.
“The only remaining train station building in Hebron is in jeopardy of being destroyed if sufficient funds are not raised for its restoration,” said Conant.
Members say in their GoFundMe post that they will use the $5,000 to lift the 18-foot-by-24-foot building up several feet in order to make the repairs.
Once stabilized, funds will be used to purchase materials that volunteers need for roof, and interior repairs and then a new front door will be installed and the building will be painted.
Although it has been used for storage for years and now sits vacant, efforts to preserve the building became more urgent last year when the Board of Selectmen recommended at the 2017 Annual Town Meeting that voters reject a $5,000 request from the society to fund the move and restoration of the building. The money was intended to seed the project but some selectmen argued against it saying, the building was filled with lead paint and not worth the effort or expense.
Conant said the building was found to have very limited lead paint inside and none on the exterior. A professional lead paint evaluator determined there is only a small amount of lead paint in the restroom area that can be encapsulated.
The town and the society also disagreed about the building’s ownership. To resolve that issue selectmen recommended at last year the Historical Society be deeded the building on April 10, 2017.
The building is not currently on its original site. In the 1950s, it had been placed on skids by a previous owner and rolled from the hayfield, which is now the town’s ball field, to its current position in front of the nearby town garage.
Members hope to move the building across the street at Hebron Station School, where the building might be used for educational purposes.
School Administrative District 17 directors agreed in June of 2017 to allow the Historical Society to relocate the abandoned building to a parcel on the Hebron Station School property but with stipulations, including that the building’s exterior is renovated before it sits on school property and that no one is allowed inside until it is restored.
The Society had hoped to move the building as soon as last fall, but in a letter dated Oct. 12, 2017, Historical Society President Raymond Glover told Superintendent Rick Colpitts that because of lack of funds and the time it takes for an organization to carry out a project, they have decided to delay it until spring when they hope the building will be ready to be moved.
Hebron Station School, built in 2002 in the area of the Hebron railroad station and freight buildings, was named for the station. The line was last used by the Maine Central Railroad in 1945. Society members have said the proposed site would make the building visible and make it usable for educational purposes when it is restored.
For more information on the East Hebron Station restoration project or to donate money, materials or labor, contact Historical Society Vice President Bob Swift at 207-966-1076. Donations can be mailed to the Hebron Historical Society at P.O. Box 294, Hebron, ME 04238 or through the GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/east-hebron-maine-train-building