Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

21st Century transportation is bringing revitalization to many rail stations from the last century.  Look at the Claremont depot (which is the sister station to Monrovia’s) and one of our all-time favorite buildings Los Angeles Union Station.
Most Monrovians are familiar with the sad state of the historic Monrovia Depot.  Over the years, the City tried to come to the rescue of this important building.  The problem was—well there were many problems, but the biggest hurdle was that the City did not own or have control of the property.  Then there was the money issue…

The final passenger left the depot 41 years ago, on May 12, 1972.  With that, the Monrovia Depot started its gradual descent into a shadow of its former self.  The Depot has weathered many plagues over the years: vandals and fires and bees, oh my!  But there it stands waiting patiently for a better day.  Dramatic?  You bet!  A train wreck?  We hope not.

Things are looking up for our beleaguered heroine of Monrovia’s transportation history.  The City recently entered into an agreement with the Gold Line Construction Authority to swap the Depot property for property that will house the parking structure for the new Gold Line station.  Ownership issue solved.

City Staff recently applied for another grant for restoration funds, this time from Metro under their Call for Projects program.  We’re waiting patiently and hope to find out this summer if the City will get the requested funds.  Show us the money and we’re ready to move full steam ahead.  If all goes as planned, this will all coincide with the opening of the Monrovia Station of the Gold Line in early 2015.  Money—check (fingers crossed).

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself, where is this story going?  Did they loose their train of thought?

So, let’s get this back on track.

We’re taking this as a sign of good things to come; this week, we saw the light.  Seriously.  Not only did we see it, we have it—an original light fixture that was…umm…rescued from a likely tragic ending when it was removed 40 years ago.

A couple of days ago, Don from Oregon paid City Hall a visit bearing a gift.  After hearing that the City was working to restore the building, he made a trip back to his hometown to transfer stewardship of the fixture to the City.  The light, which is in beautiful condition, provides an important piece of the restoration puzzle since the original architectural plans do not provide all of the details.

…and now you know…the rest of the story. 

Well, almost...who's Don, you ask?  Well, Don grew up in Monrovia and saw an opportunity to preserve a bit of Monrovia history.  Even though he no longer lives in the state, he's still a Monrovian at heart.  Don't worry Don, your secret is safe with us and we're sure the statute of limitations expired years ago!

PS  Although she’s not quite ready for her close-up, the best pictures around are featured on one of our favorite blogs: Gem CityImages

PPS Also, there’s a great photostream of her as seen in better days on Flickr put together by our friends at the Monrovia Public Library.