The Lorain County Transportation & Community Center (formerly known as the New York Central Railroad Station), is on the National Register of Historic Places (as the "Old Railroad Station"), and is known by many names by the locals, but it is mostly commonly referred to as the old train “Depot”. The building was built in 1925 in the grand neoclassical style of the period and was designed by Steward Wagner and Alfred Fellehimer, New York City architects.
Original construction began on May 17, 1923, with excavation for the large boiler room. The exterior of the building features a granite base and dark red “tapestry” brick trimmed with Ohio sandstone, with all the stone heads being hand carved in intricate designs. An illuminated canopy extends over the front entrance and sidewalk of the building.
The interior of the building features a two-story waiting room that is 80 x 70 feet, with wainscoting six feet high around the plaster walls and an ornamental plastered ceiling. Brass strips form a pattern in the terrazzo floor and at the south end of the rotunda travelers found a ticket office, baggage and parcel checking facilities, the Union News Company soda fountain and news stand, which sold candy, cigars, magazines, fiction books, novelties and children toys. Thousands of Elyrians jammed the station during a gala open house on Monday, April 6, 1925.
A marble shoeshine stand and a water fountain with ice water were major features in the waiting room at the time and a passenger subway lead to separate corridors connecting with stairways to the east and westbound platforms. The baggage room was electrically-controlled and there was a slide for handling theatrical scenery used frequently by Vaudeville and Minstrel shows of the period that could be swung out of the way when not in use. The east and west tracks were each served by a four-ton elevator, connected via a baggage subway with loading platforms below. A large electric fan ventilated the Depot.
In 1958, New York Central sold the property to Parsch Lumber and Coal company and property records show that the building functioned as a lumber yard before transferring to the Elyria Academy of Beauty Culture, Inc. or the beauty school that was owned and operated by William and Ann Faulkner Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy loved his old building and worked diligently trying to find an owner who would be able to restore the building to its earlier glory.
In 1996, a $2.5 million proposal to renovate the Depot was halted when the federal government rejected a $1.9 million historic enhancement grant. Mr. Kennedy continued to search for a buyer with the passion, technical expertise and leverage necessary to take on the monumental task of restoring the old Depot.
In 2000, the Lorain County Board of Commissioners were approached by the local Transit Authority to purchase the old train Depot, and felt that this was the perfect site for creating an inter-modal transportation facility. The Board of Commissioners was determined to develop an intermodal transportation facility to enhance the integration and connectivity between employers and the County’s workforce.
The old train Depot was renovated, and the greatly improved. The Lorain County Transportation & Community Center officially opened on December 16, 2010. In the tradition of new urbanism, the County promoted the traditional mixed-use nature of downtown Elyria while redeveloping the abandoned site to 21st Century standards. The location is directly adjacent to the City of Elyria’s struggling downtown business district and increased activity and foot traffic from the inter-modal hub should help to sustain and possibly attract new businesses in the downtown area.
The goal of the project is to stimulate downtown retail and commercial development, increase employment opportunities and assist in the revitalization of the Historic Downtown District while providing convenient access to different modes of transportation.