For the second time in less than a year, the Beaver Station Cultural & Event Center in Beaver, PA has received a statewide historic preservation award, the 2017 “Construction Project” of the year bestowed by Preservation Pennsylvania, the commonwealth’s only private statewide historic preservation non-profit organization.
Larson Design Group’s Mark Miner, director of corporate communications and a member of the Station’s operating committee, received the award with fellow volunteers David O’Leary and Charles Copeland at a ceremony at the State Museum in Harrisburg on Oct. 12, 2017.
Supported by more 350 donors, more than half from outside Beaver County, the Beaver Area Heritage Foundation completed this $2.85 million adaptive reuse of a vacant and deteriorating 120-year old former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad passenger station. Last year, Beaver Station received a community revitalization award for “creating economic vitality” presented by the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Downtown Center. The “Townie Award,” in the category of asset enhancement.
“Beaver Station is one of just eight high quality projects from all of Pennsylvania to be honored this year by Preservation Pennsylvania,” said O’Leary, chair of Beaver Station and a board director of the Heritage Foundation. “It was only possible by long-term, hard-working volunteers who have turned a potentially blighted property into a county-wide showcase for education, performing arts and historical celebrations, fundraisers and public and family gatherings. The Station is enhancing the quality of life right now at a time when Beaver County has never been in a brighter national public spotlight.”
Located within a National Historic District, the 8,500-sq. ft. Station is part of two professionally landscaped acres within a fully restored, functioning bustling campus. Since 2016, nearly 17,000 visitors have attended a wide range of events at the Richardsonian styled, Romanesque facility, averaging 13 per month, with proceeds allowing the Station to be self-sustaining and benefiting the Heritage Foundation. Beaver Station’s sister project, the Beaver Area Heritage Museum, recently hosted a Smithsonian-quality, traveling World War II exhibition courtesy of the Heinz History Center of Pittsburgh.
After a nearly 85-year life as a passenger station of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, the Station property became the County’s Emergency Services 911 Center for almost 25 years until operations were relocated in 2010. Left vacant and vulnerable for a three years, the lot size and commercial zoning, high traffic count and visibility and accelerating deterioration, made it an all but certain demolition target for redevelopment.
Citizens, governmental agencies and private foundations stepped forward with a belief in the Heritage Foundation’s visionary value proposition and track record of successfully redeveloping the nationally renowned P&LE freight station into the best local history museum of 1999 as awarded by the prestigious American Association for State and Local History.
The Station is more than a faithful restoration of an iconic community landmark for antiquity sake. Its space includes the Heritage Museum’s Collection & Research Center, the Beaver County Genealogy & History Center and a branch campus of Sewickley’s highly-respected Sweetwater Center for the Arts.