Keokuk Union Depot completes trackside canopy restoration

Restored underside of canopy
Restored underside of canopy(Neal Vogel)
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 4:29 PM CDT
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KEOKUK (WGEM) - Restoration is now complete on the trackside canopy of the Keokuk Union Depot, according to Janet Smith, President of the Keokuk Union Depot Foundation.

Smith announced Wednesday the canopy had been restored to its 1891 appearance as designed by Chicago architects Burnham & Root.

Smith stated the restoration was overseen by historic preservation consultant and project manager Neal Vogel, Principal of Restoric, LLC, who grew up in Keokuk.

Quincy Industrial Painting removed rust and multiple layers of paint on the superstructure and underside of the canopy, as well as priming the areas to be painted.

Smith stated, overall, the original structure of cast iron and corrugated steel was in remarkably good condition; however, three of the eleven footings holding the trusses supporting the canopy were damaged and had to be reproduced from a mold taken from another footing.

Through research, Vogel discovered the Depot’s turtleback canopy is the last surviving train shed of its kind and era still intact in the United States.

Architectural drawings and pictures show similar structures for stations on the Chicago “L” and Illinois Central’s stations on Chicago’s lakefront, the Kansas City Union Depot and Detroit’s Fort Street Union Depot, but none of the structures remain. Vogel’s research culminated in a presentation to the Construction History Society of America at its 7th Biennial Conference, giving national exposure to the restoration of Keokuk Union Depot. Vogel will present his findings at the Depot on October 2 at 3 p.m.

Smith stated many local individuals helped paint, weld and install lighting fixtures. These individuals include Jordon Barnes, Damon Cackley, Jay Burton, Matt Eaton, Caleb Atterberg, Colton Atterberg, Woodie Brasil, Eli Riddle, Joe McNally, Jaren Wade, Mark Stanley, and John Symmonds.

Smith added, all of the industrial epoxy coatings and supplies were purchased through Sherwin Williams in Keokuk.

According to Smith, the Keokuk Union Depot Foundation paid for the canopy project with part of the donations made by approximately 200 supporters toward the 2020 Jeffris Family Foundation Challenge Grant Capital Campaign. The second phase of the $825,000 Jeffris project is the exterior masonry restoration of the waiting room. The Depot Foundation recently received a $50,000 grant from the State Historical Society of Iowa, Historical Resource Program. By raising $550,000 by June 30, 2023, the Depot Foundation will earn the $275,000 Jeffris grant award. Including the recent state grant, as of August 31, 2022, the Depot Foundation has raised $338,000 toward the Jeffris match. Contributions to the capital campaign may be sent to KUDF, P.O. Box 463, Keokuk, IA 52632.

Smith stated, the waiting room exterior masonry project continues with the restoration of the adjacent central tower section through a Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grant from the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. When the exterior masonry is complete, the final phase, the restoration of the waiting room interior, will begin.

Restored roof of canopy
Restored roof of canopy(Neal Vogel)

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