‘This is our beginning:’ Iconic Cudahy railroad depot in jeopardy, historical society raising funds for restoration efforts

CUDAHY, Wis. (CBS 58) — What’s the cost when it comes to saving history?

That’s the potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars question for the Cudahy Historical Society (CHS), which was created in the 1970s to restore and preserve the iconic railroad depot on Kinnickinnick Avenue. 

The depot itself was built in 1892 after a man named Patrick Cudahy and his family purchased 700 acres to build a meat-packing plant just south of Milwaukee.

They decided to create the train station so plant employees would be able to have transportation, which would eventually lead to them living in the area.

14 years later, and the city they built the depot in would become what we now know as Cudahy.

“It’s been around since before the city was even a city!” exclaimed Cheryl Orlando, the vice president of the CHS. “Patrick Cudahy and this depot are what made Cudahy.”

The building became a registered landmark in Milwaukee County in 1983.

In 2013, it was named to the National Register of Historic Places. 

Inside of the depot, you can see original furniture and accessories used from back in the day.

A majority of the depot itself also still uses its original materials, from the roof to the front door.

But you can also see where the 131-year-old structure is deteriorating, thanks to not only its age, but from vandalism attempts, and weather and wild animal damage.

“Now we are just falling into this sad state of needing a lot of help to keep this building alive and a symbol of our community,” Orlando told CBS 58’s Ellie Nakamoto-White. 

That’s why the society is banding together to ask for help raising funds for new restoration efforts.

“For us, that’s our history. This is where we started,” Orlando said. “Her

The building needs a new roof, siding, gutters, and windows. The parking lot also needs work.

“Our boardwalk, much of it is from 1892, the wood boardwalk needs to be replaced as well,” Orlando said. 

Getting estimates on how much this will cost has also been a hurdle, but officials expect it to cost nearly $500,000 dollars. $8,000 of those dollars would go to just cleaning up the museum damaged by raccoons. 

And if the money isn’t raised?

“We might get down to the point where we’d have to sell the depot, and what would happen to it after that? I don’t know,” Orlando said. “For those who love history and love saving history and preserving it for future generations know the importance of this building and to keep it alive.”

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