An article outlining the progress of the depot restoration and a recent initiative to pool the resources of the NBLT and the Noxen Historical Association to fully restore the depot and the old Noxen School appeared in the Citizens' Voice Newspaper in Wilkes-Barre on December 22nd, 2003.
 
   

Saving History
Two groups will combine their efforts to save and restore a pair of landmark Noxen structures
By Tom Venesky
Citizens' Voice Staff Writer

Two groups working to preserve Noxen's history are joining together to boost their respective restoration projects. 
The North Branch Land Trust and the Noxen Historical Community Association, Inc., will be hosting an open house in January that will highlight the Noxen Train Depot and the old Noxen School.
The NBLT has been working to restore the depot, which was built in the 1890s, since 2001 and phase one of the project is expected to completed this month.  The work included a new roof and siding, rebuilding the chimney and collapsed waiting room, and foundation improvements.
Linda Thoma, executive director of the NBLT, said phase two will begin in early spring consists of interior work.  When the project is completed, the depot will be used as a museum, she added.
"If we didn't start this project when we did, it would've been too late.  Once the roof started to leak, the moisture caused some of the structural supports to rot," Thoma said.
"Our historical structures are an important connection to our past and they give a community a sense of place.  The longer you wait to restore them, the more expensive it gets and you have less to work with," she added.
Work to restore the Noxen School building, which is more than 100 years old, began in 2000.  It was given to Noxen Township by the Lake-Lehman School District to be used as a community building.
Cathie Pauley, a member of the NHCA, said the building was in deplorable condition when the project began.  Many windows were broken or boarded shut, the walls were filled with holes, the floor lifted and the coal furnace was outdated, she said.
But despite the disrepair, Pauley saw hope in the old building.
"A feasibility study proved it was structurally sound and it was a good, usable building.  It just made sense to restore it," she said.
Since the work began, all of the building's windows have been replaced, two new furnaces were installed, wiring has been upgraded and numerous other repairs were preformed.
The building has also been recognized by the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission Bureau for Historic Preservations and is set to be placed on the National Historical Registry.
But like the depot, the renovations don't come without a price.
Pauley said more than $20,000 alone was spent to replace the windows and the furnaces were installed with the help of $20,000 in grants from state Rep. George Hasay and state Sen. Charles Lemmond.
The first phase of work for the depot carried a price tag of $225,000 according to Thoma.
Pauley and Thoma said the projects wouldn't be possible without monetary, labor and material donations and numerous fund-raisers.
"The work on the school is about 40 percent complete and it's gone faster than expected because of the donations from private individuals and organizations, such as the Luzerne Foundation," Pauley said.  "We totally rely on any help we can get."
Not only are the two projects connected by their need for donations, but they also have a strong historical bond.
Pauley said the depot was built when Noxen was a thriving lumber town and it served the Noxen Tannery as a means to haul hemlock logs from Stull.
At the same time, the school, which is less than a mile away, was filled with students.
Because of those connections, Pauley and Thoma said it only makes sense for their organizations to team up with a fundraising event.
"It's a good partnership we have for the open house," Thomas said.  "We'll be using either a horse-drawn sled or wagon to take people from the school to the depot, where they can walk inside.  When people are able to set foot in a project, it makes it more real to them and they are more willing to help."
The open house is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 24 or 31, and a formal announcement will be made shortly.
For more information, visit the land trust's website at www.nblt.org or call 696-5545 or 298-2052.

Photo caption:  The Noxen Train Depot is one structure members of two restoration groups hope to save.
Photo by Mark Moran/Citizens' Voice

 

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