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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Pullman Depot Heritage Center installs historic tiles

By Emily Pearce Moscow-Pullman Daily News

One of Pullman’s oldest structures is getting a makeover, as crews work to install historically accurate tile on its roof.

The Pullman Depot Heritage Center is being restored to its original condition by the Whitman County Historical Society, along with other historians, to restore it to its original condition. Renovations have already begun: Crews started to install tiles on the depot and completed the south end last weekend. The roof project is just the beginning of a lengthy process of revitalizing the building, inside and out, to what it looked like more than a century ago.

Kathleen Ryan, depot project manager, said it was difficult to determine what color and material the original roof was made out of because most documentation was in black and white photos. While rummaging through the train station’s attic, she discovered an original tile, light green and made out of ceramic.

The old tile uncovered a logo from Ludowici, an Ohio company that supplied the tiles over 100 years ago. Ryan said the depot found not only did the 19th century business still exist, but it carried the same tiles as it did 100 years ago. Ryan said the depot had to go the extra mile and restore the roof to its original condition. It began to receive the tiles in late March, gathering over 10,000 scheduled to be put on in May.

This year’s renovation will be the largest in the depot’s lifetime, Ryan said. The train station was left untouched since the 1970s, until the society began minor renovations last year.

Built in 1916 and dedicated in 1917, the depot served as one of Pullman’s first train stations. Services continued until the 1960s, and the building was later used by the Department of Agriculture until the ’80s.

The depot was obtained by the Whitman County Historical Society in 2018 from its previous owner, who had maintained the station for 20 years.

All restoration efforts are funded through grants and donations. Ryan said the Washington State Historical Society provided the depot with $258,020 as part of the state’s Heritage Capital Project. The depot garnered additional support, around $452,000, from donors and other smaller grants.

Along with the roof, the depot will see exterior renovations including new sandstone and oak windows. On the interior, the depot will get new electrical and plumbing systems, as well as bathroom renovations to make them compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Also, ceilings will be raised to their original heights and original terrazzo flooring will be restored.

All renovations will match features of the depot’s original condition.