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December 10, 2013

Dismantling a depot: Charred Flora landmark being put into storage

Charred Flora landmark being put into storage

FLORA — Curt Hufty walked slowly through what remained of the former Flora train depot as he recounted the story.

Now a charred shell, the building had once been located downtown next to the train tracks, he said. After that, it was moved to its present location along Ind. 75 and turned into a laundromat. A fire a few years ago ended its run as a laundromat, and since then, it’s sat empty.

Neighboring business owner Denny Kunz, of D-K Construction, eyed the land for a parking lot. He planned to purchase the property from its present owners, former laundromat operators Mike and Ann Fletcher. But Curt Hufty wanted to save the building first.

“I drive by it every day,” said Hufty, of Collisions Unlimited in Flora. “I like old buildings and trains. My wife and I do a lot of motorcycle riding through the country and it’s neat to see the people who’ve restored old gas stations.”

Hufty and Melissa Bishop, director at the Flora-Monroe Township Library and founding member of Flora Main Street, have been collaborating to do just that.

For years, Flora residents have talked about preserving the depot, but it wasn’t until 2012 that the Carroll County Historical Society signed a contract with the depot’s landowner to buy the building for $1 on condition that it be moved off the property by Sept. 15, 2013. However, those plans fell through.

Once Bishop and others heard that the depot would be torn down if it still stood in its place at the deadline, they had to act fast.

“We could lose it forever,” explained Bishop.

Flora Main Street representatives asked the Flora town council to commit funds for the building’s dismantling. Taking apart the building piece by piece and storing it until it could be reconstructed would be the quickest and least expensive route to saving it, Bishop said.

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