Two groups will combine their efforts to save and restore a pair of
landmark Noxen structures
By Tom Venesky
Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
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,"
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coal furnace was outdated, she said.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
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
Photo caption: The Noxen Train Depot is one structure members of two
restoration groups hope to save.
Photo by Mark Moran/Citizens' Voice