Maybe more than you wanted to know:
Originally built 1914 by Pullman as NYC #450
Rebuilt 1936 by NYC, renumbered #518
Sold to D&H 1949, renumbered #154
At some point Empire State Railway Museum took ownership (late 1960s/early 1970s). Not sure if somebody else (besides D&H) had it before them.
Gained some notoriety during that time as it ran on a number of High Iron fan trips.
Named the "Lion Gardiner" (founding father of Old Saybrook) after "prompting" by the then Chairman of the VRR. Made a few trips on the VRR in the early 1970s. I remember at least one "company" wedding on it, when it and the "Springfield" both ran to Deep River. Can't think of any other time when that the "Springfield" left the yard, but memory is fading.
Regardless, "Lion Gardiner" was really a rarety, not too many "intact" (i.e. not gutted from work train service) heavyweight diners then, never mind now.
Condition deteriorated, became somewhat of an orphan, and was stored (for years coupled to another sad story: the 8-1-3 (?) "Arsenal Tower", on the track of gloom - the A.M.F. siding) where it was repeatedly vandalized. Looked nice on the outside, but was somewhat doomed even in the early 1970s because of its relatively early build date, and the usual problems that occurred when former heavyweights were equipped with a.c. Lots of rot in the kitchen area as well.
If I recall, VRR was hesitant to put any money into it because of ownership by ESRM. Eventually shipped back to ESRM when it reorganized in the late 1980s.
Would like to see what it looks like now. Do you have pictures? Where is it?
1987 - that was almost twenty years ago and it was bad then. Can't imagine it got a lot of work since then.
Photo from D&H days:
http://www.trainweb.org/dhvm/images/dhr ... 154-01.jpg