(North County Times, 8/6/2007)
(The Press Enterprise, 7/29/2007)
(Los Angeles Times, 7/11/2007)
(The Press Enterprise, 7/10/2007)
(The Press Enterprise, 6/28/2007)
(The Press Enterprise, 6/22/2007)
(The Arizona Republic, 6/8/2007)
What’s Developing: Renovation Leads to New Life for Historic Perris Railway Depot
The Historic Perris Railway Depot gets $2 million Renovation.
Designed by J.W. Nance, a prominent Perris builder and investor, and Benjamin Franklin Levet Sr. the architect of numerous other railroad depots in California, the Perris Railway Depot was built in 1886. The Depot is one of a few surviving historic sites in Perris currently being renovated. “I see this truly as the heart of Perris,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Yarbrough. “Many cities don’t have this opportunity.” The project calls for renovating the Depot and preserving it as a local landmark.
Cupola Roofwork: The crew is removing the scalloped shingles from around the cupola. Over most of the building, the old roof shingles will be replaced with identical but fire- retardant material. Over the freight hose, the old roof will remain, but with a new roof layered over it. This will preserve the distinctive view of the underside of the roof from inside the freight house.
In 1882, the Southern Transcontinental Railroad (composed of the Santa Fe, Atlantic and Pacific, and California Southern Railroads) was completed through the region, linking Chicago with San Diego. The original town site of Perris (first known as Pinacate) was bypassed as a rail stop until a group of investors persuaded the railroad to move its stop a mile and a half north in 1886 to its present site in the town limits. The railroad station relocation had been encouraged by the promise of the developers to name the new town after the line’s Vice President and Chief Engineer, Frederick Thomas Perris (1837 – 1916) and to build a new depot at the site. The train depot is on Fourth Street between C and D streets.
Brick Repointing: Many bricks and mortar joints are being replaced, outside and inside the building. Decayed bricks in visible areas are being replaced with near-identical bricks scavenged from the site of the long-gone Sherman Indian School.
“We’re (touching up) the bricks. We’re retrofitting the structure, and most importantly, we’re making sure that it’s structurally sound for when they open it up to the museum,” said Mark Scarlatelli, president of Gamut construction. Workers have already lifted the inside flooring, started cosmetic work and are retrofitting the building to withstand earthquakes. Workers had to remove over three tons of hazardous waste, including bird droppings that had accumulated on the roof and inside the building through the years.
The depot still has many of its original windows, comprised of art glass. Attention to the building’s historic ambience went as far as rebuilding windows that had deteriorated over the years to the same architectural era specifications.
During the renovation project, workers found historical relics such as a train ticket stub that was dated 1899 under the flooring. “When you’re opening walls and opening up floors, there are a lot of unforeseens,” said Scarlatelli.
The names of pioneer families still remain on the freight-room walls, and workers are being careful not to paint over them. “We’re working to keep as much of the original fabric of the building as we can. Any time we have to replace something, we try to find and exact replica,” said Dave Stuart, City of Perris Special Projects Manager.
Drilling Seismic Anchors: The Gamut Construction crew drills holes in the tops of the walls for installation of seismic anchors.
The City Council awarded the construction contract to Montclair-based Gamut Construction in April 2007. The project is expected to cost around $2 million. Renovation efforts are expected to be completed by fall 2007.
The renovation was mainly funded the by the City of Perris contributing $1.7 million of redevelopment agency funds in addition to $400,000 in grants the historical society received for cultural and historic preservation, and funding from a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation a number of years ago.
Loading docks: Loading docks once surrounded the freight house at the south end of the Depot. Similar docks are being recreated, and a wheelchair-access ramp is being added. As in the original, redwood decking will cover these structures.
Presently, the Orange Empire Railway Museum plans to develop the facility as the principal passenger terminal on its demonstration railway line. Passengers would be collected from the depot and transported on historic passenger trains, two miles south to the main 75 acre Railway Museum facility. With the sale in 1993 of Santa Fe’s San Jacinto branch line to the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), it is hoped that the depot area will again serve the City of Perris as a passenger facility on the Metrolink rail commuter system into Los Angeles. A large tract of land across the street from the depot has been purchased as a park and ride facility for potential commuter passenger service.