Wexford interurban station restored

By October 5, 2016HeritageRail News

By Scott Becker, Pennsylvania Trolley Museum

The Wexford Station was originally constructed in 1908 served the Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler & New Castle Railway (the “Harmony Route”) at Wexford, PA from 1908 until the line’s abandonment in 1931. It was a very important station along the line and at 650 square-feet was larger than most stations that the line constructed. 

The Harmony Route was a very well-built interurban trolley line that provided fast and frequent passenger and freight service between Pittsburgh and the North Hills to Butler and New Castle. In 1914 the branch to Ellwood City was extended to Beaver Falls.  You could actually ship a package or travel via connections with two other trolley systems from Wexford all the way to Cleveland!  Wooden trolley interurban stations of this size and condition are very rare and this building is an outstanding addition to our collection in helping to interpret the many interurban trolley cars in our collection, including one that actually used this station during its service life. When the Harmony Route was abandoned in 1931, William P. Brooker, the former station agent, purchased the building and moved it into the center of Wexford where it served as Wexford’s Post Office until 1964. It then became an antique shop and then the Wexford Post Office Deli.  The Wexford Post Office Deli became a very popular eatery with three different operators over the years: Betsy Brooker 1983-1989, Amy Weintraub Atkinson 1989-1993 and Paul Mitchell 1993-2014.  The building was donated to the Museum by the Brooker heirs, who over the years have allowed minimal changes to the building, leaving it in remarkably original condition.  The deli owner ceased operation in 2014 and the land it had occupied since the 1930s was sold. 

RELOCATION AND REUSE AS AN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE

The building was partially disassembled on Saturday May 30, 2015 at its former location at 120 Wexford Bayne Road (Route 910). The roof was removed in two pieces and moved to the Museum that day while the main structure was loaded onto a special low trailer in one piece and moved the following Saturday, June 6, 2015.  Despite its 16 foot, 4 inch width, the move went very smoothly with police escorts provided by the Northern Region Police at the beginning of the trip and by the Chartiers Township Police on the south end.   A large crane provided was used at both locations to disassemble and reassemble the building.  Jeff Pleta of Historical Structure Relocation Service, a historic house mover from Washington, PA, oversaw the move and Insana’s Towing & Crane Service of Washington, PA provided the trucking and crane logistics. 

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The building has been restored to the exterior colors it had while in service on the Harmony Route as an interpretive focal point for our visitors. Considerable restoration work by local contractors took place including new flooring, wiring and repairs to interior and exterior woodwork and its windows and doors.  It is air conditioned and heated.  Exhibit panels and period electric lighting have been added.  The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation donated two large mahogany waiting room benches that were transported to the Museum in June 2015 thanks to donated moving services provided by All Ways Moving & Storage of Washington, PA. 

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These benches date from approximately 1898 and were once used by train passengers at Pittsburgh station of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad (now known as the Grand Concourse Restaurant in Station Square Plaza). These benches have been carefully restored by Museum volunteers and were moved into the Station by All Ways Moving & Storage on September 13, 2016.

Above the doorway is a dispatcher's board from the Harmony Route interurban.

Above the doorway is a dispatcher’s board from the Harmony Route interurban.

The stove, and a photo of the junction at Evans City.

The stove, and a photo of the junction at Evans City.

COMMUNITY SUPPPORT

Funding has been provided by grants from the Allegheny Foundation, Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency, Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, Washington County Community Foundation, Tom E. Dailey Foundation, First Niagara Bank Foundation and many individual donations.  Please note that The Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area is one of twelve supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This funding was provided via DCNR’s Community Conservation Partnerships Program and the Environmental Stewardship Fund to the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, which administers the Mini-Grant program. Many volunteer hours and contributed services have been received including donated refuse services by Waste Management and donated equipment rentals by Bobcat of Pittsburgh. 

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