Renovations nearing end on old Harrisonburg depot

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- A hundred years ago, the Chesapeake and Western Railroad depot was an integral part of downtown Harrisonburg. Fast forward to today: Charles Hendricks is the architect trying to give it new life. "It's a challenge; It's fun," said Hendricks. "It's fun to learn about the history of the building, figure out new solutions --how to make it energy efficient."

He said it was built about 103 years ago and was an active train station through the 1940's, but in the 1980's a big fire gutted it. The railroad offices have been vacant ever since. The trackside brick building is at the corner of Chesapeake Avenue and West Bruce Street [ map ]. Renovations began last year. Now Hendricks hopes to have this turned into offices and retail space by June 1st.

"It looks really rough now because it's an old building," Hendricks said. "A lot of work has happened to get it safe and stabilized; and a lot of work has gone into it to get it ready for this next phase of workers coming through and making it look finished."

Wednesday, members of Friends of Downtown Harrisonburg [ info ] toured the site. Kathy Whitten is part of that group and supports revitalizing old buildings in the city for new purposes. "You appreciate the present and brand new things, but there's nothing like something that has a history," said Whitten.

Hendricks said the building passed the first round of inspections, and the HVAC, plumbing, and electric is already roughed-in.

"Oh it's amazing, it's a great building, it really is," said Whitten. "The stories just make it come to life, and you wish the walls could talk really."

For Hendricks, whose office will be on the second floor, June can't come soon enough. "Looking back at the older pictures today reminded me of what rough shape we started in," said Hendricks. "It's very satisfying to see where it's at even today with the unfinished walls and patched floors."

They're taking a piece of Friendly City history and getting it ready for tomorrow.