Our Home: Then and Now!

We Really Are A Work in Progress!

Mark Todd of the Star Beacon took this photo and wrote the story about the newly donated Conneaut Area Historical Society building that appeared in the Ashtabula Star Beacon of Sunday, August 14, 2000.

Old RR depot to be history group’s home

Conneaut. Where bags and suitcases once awaited transport to far-flung destinations, Conneaut’s history will be put on display for all to see.

A former New York Central freight depot has been donated to the Conneaut Area Historical Society, and the building will eventually house the group’s collection of artifacts and documents.

Work has already begun on its restoration, members said. “We’re in the process of cleaning the building out and assessing what we have to do,” said Ed Wharton, society president.

The long, wooden building sits adjacent to the Conrail tracks, directly opposite the Conneaut Historical Railroad Museum adjacent to Pape’s Restaurant on Mill Street. Restaurant owner Nick Paper, who owned the old building for more than twenty years, made the donation recently.

“It started out with letting the society use the building,” Pape said, “But for them to get funding, they needed to own the building.’

Pape said markings inside the building indicate it may have been built in the late 1800s. Wharton said his research points to a mid-1870s construction date. He has been unable to find railroad records that make mention of the building.

The building apparently had been used extensively by the railroad until a newer depot, now the home of the city’s Railroad Museum, opened decades ago, officials said.

The one-story structure is big, measuring 140 feet by 30 feet wide, Wharton said. The society hopes to put displays depicting the entire history of the Conneaut area, including the geological origins, into the building, Wharton said.

Nearby museums suffering from a lack of display space may be able to put some of their exhibits into the Conneaut building, he said.

The group has already obtained display cases for use in their new home, Wharton said.

Pape said some of the building’s contents were sold at a recent yard sale. Pape said he will miss the storage space.

“I’m a real packrat,” he said laughing.

Members say the location, a few steps away from the popular Railroad Museum, is ideal. Visitors will be able to use the restaurant parking lot, Pape said.

Society members said they have no real timetable for transforming the building into a museum.

“It needs a lot of work,” said Sue Howard, Society officer.

The Conneaut Area Historical Society was created five years ago and enjoys a growing membership.

“We’ve been getting upward of 50 people at our regular meetings,” Howard said.

Twenty Three Years Later