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Local Historical Icon: More than the Average Fixer Upper

The Southampton Railroad Station Society looks for ways to raise money to fund its restoration efforts for the local train station building.

The Southampton Railroad Station Society continues to make efforts to refurbish the local historical train station building.

The Society has experienced a slow start to the work that needs to be done, however the group stabilized the building to prevent further deterioration.

Board Member, Jon Frey is currently working to refurbish the platform lights. The Society is getting electrical service put back into the station, a piece of the overall project that is slated to be finished by Thanksgiving.

They replaced the main door and will continue to fix the structure as funds will allow. Frey, who wants the community to know and see that work is being done, said the current main focus is raising money to aid in the restoration.

“Right now we’re just focused on fundraising and gathering community support,” Frey said.  “A lot of our work right now is basically fundraising and working on grant applications.”

Events and private donations are the primary source of funds raised for the Society. The SRRSS held an Armed Forces train show in May 2011 at Klinger Middle School. In December, they will host The first is the 90th Anniversary commemoration of the Bryn Athyn train wreck on December 5.

Many of the passengers who died that day in 1921 were Southampton residents, making it a significant event for Southampton. It will take place at the Bryn Athyn Post Office.

Five days later, on December 10, the Society hosts its second annual Holiday Train Show at the North and Southampton Reformed Church.  Frey said the event proved to be very popular last year. The money raised last winter helped the group manage expenses for the restoration project.

“Most of the money we’ve made so far comes from the events that we’ve had,” he said. “We get a lot of private donations, just from people who want to see this project done. What we really need are big grants to really start eating away at this.”

In order to be successful in receiving grants, the Society needs to hire a historical contractor. The contractor would be able to help write out a plan of what needs to be done and in what order.

“We have to have it,” Frey said. “No one is going to give us a grant if we don’t have a coordinated plan on what the building needs. And we have to have documentation that shows this is what it costs. So when you do get the money, they know that it’s going towards the right things.”

The Southampton Railroad is seen as the building block of the township. Frey said before the train station was built in 1892, Southampton was little more than just a crossroads at Second Street Pike and Street Road. The rail line brought the people.

“This was everybody’s connection to the jobs in the city,” Frey said. “The railroad here is really what built the town…”

The SRRSS plans on making the station a museum of the Newtown Rail Line upon completion. Also, it can be used for community meetings. Frey said that the Society will move their monthly meetings from the Southampton Township Building to the train station building.

Community members have already begun utilizing the train station grounds for a village market. Locals made crafts and grew food and sold it at the bi-monthly market. Some of the proceeds were donated back to the Society. Frey said once the market becomes more popular and successful, the money made can help sustain the rail society in the future.

“Once everything is done, this is going to be a focal point for community events,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for this to be, a community type of center.”

The Society actively works to raise enough money to fully restore a piece of Southampton history. Frey said that although the train stopped running about 30 years ago, there are still people in town who have fond memories of it.

“It’s a historically significant property,” Frey said.

Frey and his fellow board members are always open to welcoming new volunteers on board. For more information on how you can volunteer or donate, go to the Southampton Railroad Station Society website.

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