Rail depot on endangered list

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The committee working to save the Storm Lake railroad depot got a boost Friday when it was announced that the building will be named to the 2004 Iowa's Most Endangered Properties list.

The list, an effort of the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance, began in 1995 to show Iowans the special buildings and historic sites that were slowly and gradually slipping away. The depot was nominated by local committee founder Brad Strader last May.

Nearly 100 nominations are made each year.

Only a select 10-12 sites have been chosen for the Most Endangered list in past years.

A panel of judges considers four criteria in choosing the list: geographic distribution, historic significance, nature of threat and variety of building type.

The Canadian National Railroad now owns the Storm Lake depot, and had planned to demolish it. The local committee has negotiated to obtain the site to be converted into a welcome center, and railroad officials have expressed an interest if the building is moved away from the site. An area near the Storm Lake school administration building is considered the most viable alternative. A local fund drive is expected to begin soon.

"Too often, members of a community find themselves helpless when architectural and historical sites of local, state and national significance are threatened," said Dr. Michael Kramme, director of the Alliance, on the group's website. "People like you, who would like to see the historical buildings preserved, lack a voice in preserving the historic integrity of our communities. We believe it's time for members of the state to join together to preserve historical buildings and landmarks. Together, we can save the farmstead in the country, the abandoned depot, the old home by the river or the beautiful department store."

Although the designation does not prevent potential demolition of a historical site, it does provide some support, advocacy and consulting toward the preservation of the sites.

The depot is already listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

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