Historic New London train depot ready to depart

NEW LONDON--A train depot built in 1886 as a transportation landmark in New London will be moving again. This will be the second move for the 60-by-24-foot white clapboard building, which was originally built for the Great Northern Railway and ha...

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Al Balay, assistant scoutmaster to Boy Scout Troop 228, says moving the depot will preserve a community resource and icon.(Carolyn Lange / Tribune)

NEW LONDON-A train depot built in 1886 as a transportation landmark in New London will be moving again.

This will be the second move for the 60-by-24-foot white clapboard building, which was originally built for the Great Northern Railway and has been used as headquarters for Boy Scout Troop 228 since 1976.

The move means the historic building will be preserved rather than demolished and the Scouts will continue to have a home.

"We have tremendous community support for our Boy Scout building," said Al Balay, assistant scoutmaster for Troop 228 who is helping coordinate the move.

"We look at this as a community resource and a community icon because this is one of our historical buildings in New London," Balay said.


When the railroad retired the depot and donated it to the city in the 1970s-and the city subsequently passed it onto the Scouts-the building was moved next to the old Lebanon Lutheran Church on land owned by Peace Lutheran Church.

The Scouts have used the building for their weekly meetings, campouts and storage of tents and other camping gear.

But about two years ago Peace Lutheran Church decided to put that 1.74-acre plot of land up for sale and razed the old Lebanon Lutheran Church, which had fallen into disrepair.

With the land up for sale, the Scouts began exploring options to save and move the Scout hut and began raising money to make it happen.

Thanks to community and business support and a stick-to-it attitude by the Scouts and the adult leaders, the move will likely happen next month.

Preparations to get the building ready for the move have been taking place all summer, with activities accelerating in the last couple weeks as Scouts, parents and local contractors have pitched in.

A large concrete pad in front of the building was removed last month, excavation was completed around the perimeter of the building last week so that rotted wood sills could be replaced, a cabin that had been added to the back of the depot was separated for demolition and this week new shingles were being installed on the depot roof.

It's expected excavation for the foundation will begin next week at the new location on property also owned by Peace Lutheran Church. The church has been working closely with the troop to make the space available and the move happen.


The depot will only move about a block, but the new location near the church parking lot will make it more available for community use, Balay said.

Early estimates of $30,000 to move the building and repair the roof overwhelmed the troop, which has held several fundraisers to offset costs.

But what's kicked the project into high gear is the work of local contractors and businesses who have donated or reduced the cost their labor and materials, Balay said.

"There's a number of contractors in the community that have stepped forward and have graciously offered to help us with tremendous amounts of donations of their crews' time and their time," Balay said. "Because of that, we won't need to spend as much money as originally anticipated."

There will be more expenses, and more fundraising, to complete future renovations including replacement of windows and flooring and the painting of the exterior. That work will make the building functional and attractive for the Scouts while also preserving a piece of the past for the community.

"That's one of the goals, to make sure it looks like the historical building that it is," Balay said. "We want it to look like the 1886 New London train depot."

An open house is expected to take place next year, which will be the 70th anniversary that Troop 228 has been chartered with Boy Scouts of America under the sponsorship of New London's American Legion Post 537.

Troop 228 was originally organized in 1928 but had periods of inactivity, including during World War II. It has been continuously chartered since 1946, making it one of the oldest troops in the state.


Meanwhile, Peace Lutheran Church leadership has said it would like to see the vacant land sold and developed for housing for senior citizens. The city of New London has made several offers to buy the property but so far none of those offers has been accepted.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at or 320-894-9750
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