Replicating The Past In Order To Pay For Restoring It The Old Caln Historical Society Is Raising Funds By Selling Miniature Replicas Of Landmark Buildings.

Posted: October 23, 1994

CALN — Ruth Jones of Thorndale remembers when trains rumbled through Caln Township and stopped at the tidy cream-and-brown freight station off Route 30 in Thorndale.

The trains took on coal for their steam engines and, in later years, the station was the place where farmers from the surrounding area loaded their cattle on special freight cars.

The station was demolished about 1942. And for many years it seemed as though it was only longtime residents such as Jones who could bring it back, at least in memory.

But today, thanks to the Old Caln Historical Society, small replicas of the station are for sale to the public. The replicas - wooden plaques that measure about five inches high and four wide - are the fourth in a series produced by the society in an attempt to raise both money and public awareness of local history.

The society is also making available one of the historic buildings it manages - the Old Caln Meeting House - for weddings and other events as another source of income.

Recently, two local people, Steve Bedard and Valerie Wagner, were married at the house. Another wedding was held last year, when the society first opened the building to the public.

At that time, the society and another group - the Sadsbury and Downingtown Friends - had spent many months together working to restore the building and to place it on the National Register of Historic Places.

That move was typical of what many historical societies do today to begin a long process of public recognition and of fund-raising.

Indeed, the days of cookie sales and other simple means of raising money seem to be over.

Groups such as the Old Caln Historical Society now have access to more federal and state grants than ever before. But competition for the grants is often stiff, and government grants must be matched dollar for dollar by the group in need.

The Old Caln society recently applied for a state grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in Harrisburg, for example, but was turned down because state funds ran out. It plans to apply again.

The society had already acquired its matching sum of $10,000, which it had raised partly from the sale of the two replicas introduced last year.

The society wants the funds to finish restoration of the meetinghouse. Although in good condition, it needs heat, running water, bathrooms, and a small kitchen to bring it up to 20th-century standards.

Dudley Lightly, the society president, said the replicas - the first was of the 150-year-old hexagonal schoolhouse, the second was of the meetinghouse itself, and the third was of the Taylor House, which served as a pottery in the early 1800s - sold so well that the society decided to reissue the limited-edition series.

The models, Lightly said, were the inspiration of his wife, Barbara, who had read about a company in Minnesota that offered custom-made replicas. They thought the schoolhouse - an area landmark for its unusual shape and size - would be an immediate hit.

All four replicas are now available in a limited edition of 200. They sell for $12 each for society members, and $15 for non-members.

At a Sunday afternoon meeting of the society at the township building in Thorndale, the group presented one of the train-station replicas to Ruth Jones.

Jones, 80, who lent the old photograph that was used to make the replica, can recall a lot of details about life at the freight station because her father, N. Haynes Jones, was stationmaster at Thorndale during the early 1920s.

Jones and her two brothers grew up at the station and lived in what was then considered - even by country standards - to be a large and spacious home. It had two stories and six rooms, Jones said. "My father rented the house

from the railroad for $5 a month. That was cheap even in those days!"

For more information about where to buy a replica, or to order one, call the society at 610-383-5661.

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