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From: Bernie Wagenblast brwagenblast AT comcast DOT net
Date: Tue, 02 Apr 2002 06:28:50 -0500
Subject: Providence Forge, VA
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http://www.newkentguide.com/Images/pfstation.jpg (station circa 1990)
Friends Aim To Save Station ; Providence Forge Depot Built In 1880
Source: Richmond Times - Dispatch
Publication date: 2002-03-31
Arrival time: 2002-04-02
Janet Kondakor's passion for trains grew up with her son Elek.
But her latest project involves a bit more than laying Brio track on the
living room floor.
Since July, Kondakor has been trying to lead a grassroots effort to save the
Providence Forge Station in New Kent County.
The Victorian depot, built around 1880 on the old Chesapeake & Ohio Railway,
shows years of neglect. The grayish-blue paint is peeling, and the gutters
are rusted and falling off. Part of the roofline bends like the brim of a
Still, Kondakor, whose family moved from Williamsburg to Quinton six years
ago, looks past the looted trim and sees endless charm and potential. She
envisions the station restored and reopened to the public as a welcome
center or museum.
Kondakor and about 10 others have organized as the Friends of the Providence
Forge Station. They're affiliated with the New Kent Historical Society and
hope to raise about $30,000 through fund- raising events and grants to
stabilize and move the building.
They have no idea where.
"To find someone to actually donate land, that's what we need," she said.
Kondakor, who owns a hair salon in Bottoms Bridge, discovered the station in
a New Kent historical brochure.
"I thought it was of such value architecturally, a part of history," she
said. "It's here, and nothing's being done with it."
Elek, who's 7, also was intrigued. "I think it's very nice because I like
The station, owned by CSX Transportation, is the only one on the C&O line
left in New Kent. Providence Forge was a stop for passengers until about
1931 and for freight until at least the late 1960s, according to the
Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society.
The station, similar in design to the Lee Hall station in Newport News, sits
about 25 feet off the rail line, near U.S. 60.
Kondakor hopes her group will be able to buy the station for $1 and move it
off CSX property, at least 50 feet from the track.
"We're certainly willing to work with them in their efforts to preserve the
building," said David Hall, a spokesman for CSX Transportation.
CSX routinely works with community groups interested in saving stations that
are no longer needed by the company, Hall said.
"A lot of the burden is going to rest on them to get the funding to make the
required move," he said.
New Kent officials learned only in recent years that CSX might be willing to
part with the building, said John Crump, president of the county historical
"We're excited about the possibilities," he said. "Throughout the county,
we're having a bigger effort to save the older properties."
Kondakor is particularly interested in saving the station's two- story
section. The rear wall of the single-story section, once used for freight
storage, was destroyed sometime during the past year.
"Don't let this happen to your station," she said sadly, as she looked at
the thick pine beams of the partly collapsed roof. She believes the damage
is the result of an accident involving a crane that sits nearby.
Still, Kondakor remains optimistic. Whenever she starts feeling discouraged,
someone with a memory of or an interest in the station calls or gives her
something. She recently received three pages that had been ripped from an
old community telephone book.
The pages include an article that reflects warmly on New Kent's railroad
history, complete with old black-and-white photos and tales told by locals.
"The 'fast' trains barely slowed enough to snag the outgoing mailbags off
the high hooks," one woman was quoted. "They'd toss yours off as it flew
Kondakor also finds inspiration every time she visits the station.
"If I look awhile, I find something I didn't see before."