MURPHYSBORO — Illinois Central's old railroad depot was sold for $1 in 1968, when it was presumed to be a building on its way out. In fact, Murphysboro council members had planned to tear it down and make way for a city parking lot.
Soon after the building was purchased to be used to help those with developmental disabilities, the father of Bud Crew, a student at the facility, corralled some of his union friends to renovate the building.
Almost 50 years later, the building is as solid as it was back then, said Kathy Baumann, chief executive officer of START, an organization that works with the developmentally disabled, which has occupied the space since 1969.
Only a handful of the windows are the originals, but the three cream-colored stone insets above each one are the originals.
The depot still has the original brown-shaded bricks that workers put into place in 1912 and the original wooden, sliding doors to the adjoining baggage garage.
The roof appears seamless, even though a St. Louis-area firm had to be called in a few years ago to replace some of the red clay-colored pantiles.
The detailing of the Murphysboro Depot incorporates elements of the Craftsman Style of architecture, said Gail White, a Carbondale-based architect who was one of a handful of professionals contacted to help identify the building's style.
In an email, White wrote: "The former Illinois Central Railroad Depot in Murphysboro is a good example of the type of railroad stations built during the peak years of rail modernization in the late 19th — early 20th centuries. The long, linear profile of the depot was common among a number of depots constructed during that era — reflecting the interior layout where separate men’s and women’s waiting rooms were placed on either side of a central ticket office, and where baggage rooms were semi-detached from the main depot building by a roofed arcade connecting the two sections. A feature among depots following this design was the segmented shape of the ticket office, which projected beyond the track-side façade of the building and afforded visibility up and down the railroad tracks from within the ticket office."
"This style can be seen in the mullion patterns in the windows and the horizontal braces, or beams, under the wide eaves of the roof, the flared wall base and battered piers at the pavilion on the south end of the building. The keystone and voussoirs, or wedge-shape stones, above the flat window heads reflect the Neo-Classical influence popular in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century. The projecting bay at the ticket office with the complex curvature in the roof profile and the flared roofline at the eaves reflect the influence of picturesque styles from the Victorian era during the latter part of the 19th Century."
In the past year, though, the organization had to authorize that some of the original bricks in the sidewalk in front of the building be replaced, as they were beginning to pose a hazard to clients and visitors.
Why hasn't someone tried to put the 100-year-old building on the National Registry of Historic Places?
First off, because there have been some changes, Baumann said.
"It's not on the Historic Registry — don't want it on the Historic Registry," she said.
"If you want insurance, 'thou shalt do that,'" Baumann said.