RICHMOND, Va. -- You might drive by and not even notice it. A building that is a line drive from the Diamond, at the corner of Hermitage and Robin Hood in Richmond.
"This is the Westham Train Station," Selden Richardson said. "It does hurt to see a building deteriorate like this."
Richardson, a historian, sees beauty in the eyesore.
"I think it is extremely significant. Not only is it a part of our local history, it is also something that is disappearing from the American landscape," he said.
For 50-plus years, the simple structure built in 1911 welcomed generations of passengers and freight near the Huguenot Bridge.
"It doesn’t look like much now, but it is an important building and needs to be saved," he said.
At the end of its cycle as a station, the building was moved to Richmond by the Jaycees and reborn as Richmond’s Welcome Center.
“This was the gateway to our town yes. And as such, I’m sure it was beautifully maintained and quite a showplace,” Selden said.
Today the welcome mats and visitors have vanished -- replaced by piles of trash.
The city owned building has fallen into disrepair -- its condition worsening.
"Well, we have overgrown plants, a license plate, lots of beer cans, lots of debris that has been accumulating for years and years," Selden said. "If it was moved once, it can be moved again. I believe it should be moved outside the city."
Richardson scoffed at the city for locking the doors and seemingly walking away.
"This is precisely the demolition by neglect you saw in the Leigh Street Armory which is treasured now as the Black History Museum and is a tourist attraction for the city,” Selden said. "Surely someone has seen this mess... I hate to think what the Jaycees would think now."
Selden Richardson knows a restoration will be costly, but the preservationist said we all lose if this is the end of the line for Westham Station.
"Once they’ve been eliminated, they can’t be replaced at all," he said.
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