The Beaver Station Cultural & Event Center has received a $500,000 commitment from the Allegheny Foundation that will allow the 118-year-old former train station to host its first public event, an open house, in September.
The foundation’s “capstone gift” has helped the project surpass its original $2.3 million goal. Since 2012, more than $2.45 million has been contributed to the project by more than 275 donors, according to the Beaver Area Heritage Foundation.
The building on River Road in Beaver was built in 1897 as a passenger station for the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. It retains the original terrazzo floor, high box-beam ceiling, stained-glass windows and brass fixtures.
Renovation work started in 2013. The former waiting room is now a 2,500-square-foot event center, which can be rented for civic and corporate events, wedding receptions, reunions and other gatherings.
Work is underway on the front porte-cochere, the rear courtyard, the belvedere and a parking lot addition. The work that is funded by the Allegheny Foundation will continue into 2016.
The 6,000-square-foot lower level is the cultural center. Part of that will be used to store more than 30,000 local historical artifacts that are not on display in the Beaver Area Heritage Museum, located next door in the former railroad freight station.
Both buildings and the two-acre site are owned and operated by the Beaver Area Heritage Foundation.
The cultural center will have a branch of the Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley, said Mark Miner, a member of the Beaver Station operating committee and chairman of the museum board. There will be rooms for art classes and possibly cooking classes, he said.
The Beaver County Genealogy & History Center has been a tenant since 2013 “and they’ve seen a 30 percent increase in foot traffic,” he said. People come from all over, he said, for speakers and research. “They’ve become a countywide asset,” he added.
About $250,000 is still needed for some finishing touches, including “reconstructing original 19th century historic building features and creating attractive and educational site amenities including an outdoor gathering space and establishing an operating reserve endowment.”
The P&LE Railroad ended commuter rail service between Pittsburgh and Beaver in 1985. Beaver County officials acquired the passenger station and used it as a 911 emergency response center.
In 2010, when the county moved the 911 center to Ambridge, Beaver officials bought the passenger station for $200,000 and sold it to the Beaver Area Heritage Foundation in 2013 for $110,000.
The building was designed by Boston architects associated with H.H. Richardson, well-known for designing the Allegheny County Courthouse and jail and other railway stations.
In addition to the state and the town of Beaver, the following organizations have made commitments of $10,000 or more: Allegheny Foundation; Michael Baker International; Jack Buncher Foundation; Cottrill Arbutina & Associates; Duquesne Light; Eaton Corp.; First National Bank; Heritage Valley Health System; Huntington National Bank; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Johnstone Supply; P.M. Moore Foundation; Peoples Natural Gas; PNC Foundation; Strassburger, McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky; Tri State River Products; UPMC Health Plan; and the Women’s Club of Beaver.
No date has been set for the open house. For more information: www.beaverstation.org.
Linda Wilson Fuoco: email@example.com or 412-263-1953.