YORKTOWN, N.Y. - After 16 years of work, the historic train station at Railroad Park is finally done and plans have been made to open it back up to the public for the first time in 62 years.
Town officials gathered to cut the ribbon Tuesday, July 7, at the newly renovated structure that has been a part of the town’s history since 1877.
The station, nicknamed “Old Put” is the last standing station on the former New York-Northern Railway and stopped serving passengers in 1958 when the last train left the station, four years before freight service was abandoned between East Falls and Mahopac. Unlike other railways in the Hudson Valley, the Northern Railway did not directly connect to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, which hurt ridership and ultimately led to the closure of the railway. In 1966, Yorktown purchased the empty station and the exterior was repaired in the late 1970s.
The station was deemed a national landmark in 1981 and was subsequently named to the state and local registers.
Over the years, other rail stations on the line have been lost to time, rot and decay, with the Millwood station being demolished in 2012, leaving the Old Put the last of its kind.
Though a grant to refurbish the station was acquired in 2004, it wasn’t until early July 2019 that the bid for construction was awarded to Clemco Construction of Ossining, the only bidder, for the work.
“I want to thank everyone who over the last 16 years played a substantive part in making today a reality,” Supervisor Matt Slater said at the ribbon-cutting. “Having grown up here in this community, it’s just incredible to have a piece of our history come back to life.”
Planning Director John Tegeder spearheaded the $467,000 restoration project after the town acquired the money through a federal grant in 2004. The New York State Department of Transportation reimbursed the town $295,762 and the town covered the remaining $147,881.
“It’s been a long time,” Tegeder said at the event. “I’ve been trying to do this since I’ve been here. It’s a great personal accomplishment for me. It is something that I hold high as a great achievement for the town of Yorktown. This building really set the stage for the premier hamlet in the town of Yorktown, which is Yorktown Heights. When the train came through, there was really nothing here. This train station and the train that came through here started this village.”
Slater presented Tegeder, Town Planner Robyn A. Steinberg and Assistant Planner Thomas D’Agostino a proclamation for their work on the project. Officials also acknowledged Lorraine DeSisto, who worked with Tegeder on the project until her death from ovarian cancer in 2014.
Construction on the project began in 2017. It retained the original structure but refurbished many of the station’s aspects, such as the original form of the windows and the glass. The woodwork has been refinished on the inside and the slate roof and copper finishing were replaced. The construction was overseen by Thomas Clemmens from Clemco Construction.
“There have been periods where people have had doubt and [raised] the question of where Yorktown is or where it’s going. I think what we’re seeing during this pandemic is that our natural resources [in Yorktown] are fantastic,” said County Legislator and Yorktown resident Vedat Gashi. “There is a rich history and that rich history is going to be preserved for the future and present, so I want to thank the efforts over the 16 years. John [Tegeder], congratulations and thank you as a resident of Yorktown.”
Walter Sedovic and Jill Gotthelf of Walter Sedovic Architects of Irvington oversaw the design of the building and compared the building’s resilience to the resilience displayed by Yorktown residents.
“We’re all still standing just like the Old Put station and that’s because the same dogged determination that caused the railway to exist, that desire to stay connected, to be a part of a larger community is what has driven every one of the people up here,” Sedovic said, referring to town officials and those honored at the event. “Everybody loves a train and everybody loves this station, and it’s important to us that it continues to be a crucial anchor for this community and that we can feel with confidence that it will live on with us and for us and by us for generations to come.”
Tegeder said the town is working to make the Old Put train station a visitor’s center along the North County Rail Trail. Visitors will be able to learn about the town’s history and other landmarks, pick up a refreshment and sit at a table and enjoy the park.