• Big Four Depot - Mattoon, Illinois - DEMOLISHED

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by NJTRailfan
Apparently American Soceity has learned nothing from their mistakes. The demolishing of old NYP, B&O Chicago Terminal, IC Terminal, and the decay of BCT and MCS makes me wonder if Americans really care at all for their history?

What a waste that my generation knows a damn about theirs. Here I am a 2nd generation Indian American who did a thesis on this while most 20 somethings (most of whom are 3rd or 4th generation americans) know every damn show on American Idol, Britney Spears and the crappy rap albums, but know nothing on preserving their history and getting elected officials to do soemthing. Then again hardly anyone in my age group goes to town meetings or even vote.

I wish this generation cared as passionatly about these historical sites as much as they compassionatly save Howard Stern from being taken off the air.

A sad time indeed when this crap can still be gotten away with in the 21st Century and most of the population doesn't care because their too busy in their lifestyle watching reality shows, drinking, eating, getting high and being merry,

  by Hoosierailnut
Not all of us in our 20s and early 30s like to get high or go to bars and hang out. Im 30 and id give a flip less about rap music(absoluetly HATE it! Rap is crap with the C removed give me some good ol' classic rock!)) going to the bars, getting high, and doing illegal stuff. I hate to see anything historic get destroyed or torn down but these days none seems to care. Its a throw away society. Sad but true..

  by Otto Vondrak
Ditto that.

But- there are only so many structures that can be saved. Saving a structure also requires a lot of support, organization, and funding- not just the will for it to happen.

-otto- (age 26 and 3/4)

  by harlock523
I have to agree with the previous two posters as I am concerened with the broad brush which my age demographic has been painted. In the interest of full disclosure I am 36 and happen to like Rap, with my own preferences to bands of course, and worked professionally in the Historic Preservation biz for 10 years. And I agree with Otto concerning the effort and money involved with saving a building.

Tearing down buildings that have local significance is almost a national past time and is not specific to this generation. A good exapmple of this are old movie palaces that were built early in the twentieth century and torn down in the 60's and 70's. For better or worse the only way that you can ensure that a building will not be torn down, at least without a big fight, is by getting it accepted to the National Register of Historic Places. The accpetance process is lengthy and there are very specific criteria that must be met before a building can even be considered. The criteria include: is it an unique building, does it have national importance, is it associated with an nationally important person, among others.

The structure of the law is weighted towards what would probably be called elite structures, but sometimes a few exceptions sneak through. The result is many buildings which might be of interest being torn down and a few really good examples are preserved. The unfortunate fact is that not every building can be or should be saved. I am not sure that it is the case here but if a building has been abandoned for a long time, the cost of even making it safe is astronomical. In this case having it registered is a double edged sword.

One way to change this is to contribute to groups that work actively to save structures that do not fit the historic preservation criteria. Another way is to get an area designtated as a Historic District as the criteria are different and are geared toward an overall impression of "Historicity".

Best wishes,

Tom Johnson
  by tsched
If I may add my two cents.. I grew up in Mattoon and walked to grade school alongside those NYC/Big Four tracks and past that depot. I loved watching those morning trains come through town at grade. But the tracks have been gone since 1982. I stepped inside the station a few years back and I wondered then how anyone would be able to salvage it. And let's remember, this is Mattoon.. a town of 20,000 folks, a working-class place. I think there ARE lots of people (of various ages) there who care about the history, but as one previous poster said, there are only so many buildings that can be saved. And it would have taken a lot of money to restore that building. And then what? The location was not good for retail. A big thumbs up though to those who cared enough to try and save it.
  by ipls3355
Allow me to respectfully disagree with the last post. The Big Four Depot in Mattoon COULD have been saved. Contrary to public statements on the condition of the building, it WAS structurally sound. Look at the pictures on the website. This is not a building ready to fall down.

It had a new roof put on it in 1988. Most water damage came from the broken windows upstairs, this buckled the hardwood floors on the second floor. This could have easily be fixed.

There was a freight elevator installed around 1968 when the building was used as a warehouse. We were told this severely damaged the stabilty of the building. HOGWASH!! This could have been retrofitted to meet ADA requirements today.

The plaster was in surprisingly good shape. The woodwork was original and NEVER painted. The stairway was immaculate. Replace the roof and windows, and in a years time, I could have had the downstairs ready for public use. Honestly, it mostly needed a new coat of paint.

We can argue till were blue about the condition of the building, and what uses it could have had. Those arguments are a waste of time at this point. The building is now in a pile north of Loxa, IL (in the landfill).

Mattoon is dedicating to tearing down old buildings instead of restoring them like other cities and towns. I believe this practice is not the best for the city. Tourism is zero. Industry is down. Any new business is a box store by the interstate. Replacing architecture with pole barns and parking lots is NOT progress.

Please visit my website at http://www.savemattoon.org

Chris Rankin
Mattoon, IL
  by tsched
Thank you for the clarification, Chris. I'll go take a look at your website. Now I'm even sadder about the whole thing.