Written by Patricia Aitken, email@example.com Thursday, 30 January 2014 00:00
The Oyster Bay Railroad Museum is making significant strides towards its goals of restoring the historic Oyster Bay train station and Locomotive 35. The museum has been awarded three grants to do the restorations, a project intended to preserve a large piece of history for the area.
Development Director Bill Bell said, “The contribution the museum will make to the cultural and historic fabric of Oyster Bay hamlet is astronomical. It is truly unique in the region, combining history, technology and political history. What the Long Island Rail Road meant to Oyster Bay, and Long Island, is an incredible history, and it’s important that it be told.”
A total of $715,693 in grants was awarded to do a restoration of the station; $650,000 was received from two foundations who do not want to be identified. Legislator Judy Jacobs obtained a $65,693 grant from Nassau County to replace doors and windows and to do exterior masonry work. Together with a previous grant of $546,000 to restore Locomotive 35, the museum has received a major fundraising boost. Museum officials estimate that at least another $150,000 will be needed to completely restore the station, and $500,000 will be fund the creation of exhibits.
The museum was granted a permanent charter by the New York State Board of Regents in December. Having this charter will assist in bringing school groups to the museum.
The museum currently operates out of a storefront on Audrey Avenue, where visitors can explore exhibits of historic railroad artifacts. Many of them were actually used in the Oyster Bay Train Station. Just a short walk away, visitors can almost hear “All Aboard” being called out by a conductor, as they explore railroad cars, cabooses, and engines, which are being restored by volunteers. The turntable is almost in operational condition again. The motor has been refurbished, and once new rails are laid, and electric power is connected, visitors will once again be able to see a demonstration of how trains were turned around at the end of the line in Oyster Bay.
The train station itself was built in 1889, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. It was designed by the noted railroad architect and “inventor of the skyscraper,” Bradford Lee Gilbert. When it was completed, the Oyster Bay Railroad Station was described as one of the finest stations in the country. Unfortunately, it has now been placed on the “endangered” list by the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities. There are some structural and condition issues, including a crack in a brick wall, caused by some settling in the foundation. The museum is consulting with preservation architects to develop a plan to proceed with the restoration of the building and prevent further damage. The station was last used as a station in 1999, and was purchased by the Town of Oyster Bay in 2004.
As the station for Theodore Roosevelt during his presidential years, diplomats, politicians, and world famous writers traveled through the station, sharing space with commuters and the produce and mundane supplies being brought to supply the markets and homes of Oyster Bay.
The community has demonstrated great support for the project, looking forward to the visitors and the museum will bring. Lower Audrey Avenue has been experiencing a renaissance with an interesting combination of museums, (the Railroad Museum and 21st Century Cycles), Sweet Tomato Restaurant and the Teaching Studios of Art, Ben’s Garden and Chalikian’s Jewelry. Once the park entrance is moved to its new site next to the museum, visitors will be drawn down Audrey Avenue, where they will be able to walk into the park and visit Oyster Bay’s magnificent waterfront. It is truly something to look forward to, and will certainly contribute to the local economy, as well as enhance Oyster Bay’s reputation as a historic and cultural center.