Save the Hamilton Depot!
Save the Hamilton Depot!
We urge Hamilton City Council to save the historic CSX-owned train depot from demolition by relocating and stabilizing the structure for long-term redevelopment. The oldest section of the depot dates to the 1860s and the three-story section was added in the 1880s. This historic building has served as a gateway to Hamilton, welcoming all types of travelers and several U.S. presidents. Here too, Butler County families said goodbye and reunited with their sons and daughters who went off to war.
Cities across the country have worked to save their historic depots, recognizing how these civic landmarks both tell a story from the past, and create economic development opportunities for the future. Imagine Cincinnati without Union Terminal. Many smaller Ohio cities have also repurposed their stations, including Middletown, Newark, Marion, Galion, Dennison, Mt. Vernon, Lima, and Kent. These buildings now serve as restaurants, offices, community space, and retail stores. It is also not uncommon for train stations to be relocated due to the proximity to active railroad tracks, with nearby examples in both Lafayette and Wabash, Indiana.
Hamilton’s industrial history started with the river and canals, and surged as railroads linked the city to the national marketplace. Hamilton lost its Pennsylvania Railroad depot in 1990 when Norfolk Southern demolished the structure without public notice. Let us not repeat this same mistake and lose such a physical tie to the railroads that helped to develop Hamilton into a nationally known manufacturing center.
Restoring the depot provides an exciting opportunity to create an anchor along MLK Jr. Blvd. We have seen the restoration of historic buildings on High and Main streets result in further investment and new business openings. As the city begins to focus on neighborhood redevelopment, a restored train station could be a catalyst for extending the revitalization of downtown into the Second Ward/Riverview and Fourth Ward/Jefferson neighborhoods.
As council considers the decision to invest public funds into the relocation, we are reminded of the past success of such action. Nearly twenty years ago, the city paid $575,000—nearly the same amount needed for the depot—to buy and save the Mercantile Block. It was a gamble, but it resulted in the first market-rate housing in downtown and launched the redevelopment of High Street. The city assumed another major risk in purchasing the former Champion Paper complex and today roughly $150 million in private investment is happening as a result. We are confident that this building can be another success story.
Hamilton's revitalization has been built on preserving its unique character. This is our competitive advantage. Please vote to save the Hamilton Depot!