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Historic Depot building torn down

Town loses a little piece of history

June 09, 2010 | 08:45 AM
Springfield — The end of an era officially was marked by last week's demolition of the Lyons Historic Depot.

After years of dreams for the old building which was located off Highway 120, the Baker family witnessed the building literally falling apart.

"Everybody in this area drives Highway 120 and they see it — it's really a landmark here," Stacy Baker Stone said as she watched the wood building being torn down.

Her grandmother owns the land where the building rested.

It was only a pile of wood fragments late last week.

The depot is believed to have been built around 1855 after a railroad was built.

According to the Lyons Historical Society, the building originally was located near Milwaukee Road in what is now northern Lyons.

"Once the depot was in place, businesses began to spring up in the vicinity surrounding the tracks, thus moving the village from the previous location to its current location," according to the Historical Society's Web site.

The site also states shortly after, the settlement formally was named Lyons after being called Lyonsdale.

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The building then was moved to nearby Springfield many years ago.

A locally-known historian, Linda Skiles said this isn't the first time a historic building has been demolished in Springfield.

"The demolishing of the old depot building in Springfield is just one of many changes in recent months," Skiles said. "Likewise, the memory of another landmark, the parish hall on the St. Joseph's Campus which was removed approximately two weeks ago, will also all too soon fade away."

Marilyn Liskowski, a Baker, said her parents grew up in the area and she can remember the train going by.

"We always thought we'd fix the building, and at first we thought, maybe make a nice house, but it's too close the road now so we really liked the idea of making it into an ice cream shop or a daycare facility," Liskowski said.

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She said the Baker family tried everything to save the historical site.

"We contacted so many different organizations to help. We contacted 'Old World Wisconsin' and we were pretty much blown off," Liskowski said. "We contacted 'This Old House,' the TV show. We were told we were too far, or the building was too old most of the time. Otherwise, no one was interested."

She said the building first started to fall apart a few weeks ago.

"It literally just popped open and the way it was kind of falling over, it looked like that," Liskowski said. "There's mixed feelings about it though. We're sort of glad it's coming down since we just couldn't get the resources to fix it up and it has caused some burden. But it's sad to see it go because it is part of history."

She said tourists would come and take pictures of the building and in front of it.

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But other guests would break into the building and sometimes steal items which were inside.

"Although we planned to make into something else, we kept it because we wanted to save some part of history," Liskowski said.

She also said she was told that community members had been attempting to raise money in order to help save the building once it started to crumble.

As of now, the Bakers think the land where the depot sat will become green space.

They thought of growing a garden in its place, but it would be hard to stop passerbies from picking the produce and plants for themselves, Liskowski said.

Skiles said she fears a part of the town's character was lost as the building came down.

"Of course, we each have our own personal memories of events that took place within those walls, but without the documentation of photos and stories, future generations will not truly understand the importance these structures served," she said. "The buildings, the memories — I feel is what makes us the community that we are."

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