Pullman passenger train car debuts in Dennison

Pullman passenger train car debuts in Dennison
Scott Daniels

Wendy Zucal, director of the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, reviewed the many phases through which the museum has grown, beginning in the early 1990s, that have led to phase nine, the restoration of the Pullman railcar.

                        

While many small towns and villages struggle to attract business and traffic, Wednesday, Nov. 17 saw the streets of Dennison without empty parking spaces, a not-rare circumstance for the tiny village of 2,600.

The occasion was an open house to unveil the Dennison Depot Museum’s newest addition to its collection: a now fully restored Pullman luxury passenger train car. The car will be available beginning in the spring for rental as a bed and breakfast.

The open house attracted about 75 people gathered in a hall across Center Street from the museum. Ceremonies began with an introduction by Scott Robinson, Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce president and Dennison Depot Museum board vice president, followed by remarks from Dennison Mayor Greg DiDonato.

“I’ve always been bothered by the fact that the village of Dennison has had no real lodging available for visitors,” DiDonato said. “This fixes that in a big way.”

DiDonato credited the many people who worked to remain true to the vision and see things through. “This depot complex as a whole is what has kept Dennison from looking like a lot of other small villages. So many of them struggle, but we have the depot as a showplace to bring people here. And now they’ll have a unique place to stay,” he said.

Wendy Zucal, director of the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, reviewed the phases through which the museum has grown, beginning in the early 1990s, that have led to phase nine, the restoration of the Pullman railcar.

“We were able to acquire the car in 2007, so you see how long this has been unfolding. The car has many of its original components, and we knew we would be able to save much of that, and we decided that we could turn it into a bed and breakfast,” Zucal said.

The car is a survivor from the heyday of luxury train travel in the 1920s and is complete with sleeping quarters, bathrooms and a shower.

Funding for the $1 million project was through federal and state grants via the Ohio Department of Transportation, among other sources.

After the ceremonies, open house attendees were invited to tour the finished Pullman car.

“This is something that will help the village of Dennison to be strong economically,” Robinson said. “This will be a great addition to the museum and the downtown area. It will help create jobs and tourism and be a very exciting and positive source of growth. There really haven’t been any options for accommodations locally. This Pullman car is about an experience. Can you imagine what it must be like to sleep in a luxury train car? How many people can say they’ve had that kind of experience? We expect it to be very popular.”

DiDonato said he also is excited about the prospect of offering a unique experience to visitors. “It really is an experience to be able to stay in a bed and breakfast housed in a train car as opposed to a traditional hotel. And there are excellent restaurants in town and shops, and it’s all a very positive thing for the village of Dennison. I’m very excited about it and the possibilities the Depot Museum continues to bring for the area,” he said.

Zucal said the train car should be available for guests in spring 2022. “We just have some operational planning to get in place and get it listed as an Airbnb property. People will be able to book online. We don’t want to rush it, so we want to get past our Polar Express Christmas event and look forward to opening it in the spring,” she said.

Zucal said she was pleased with the Pullman car’s restoration. “It actually came out better than I expected,” she said. “We got to a point where we realized it was going to be very nice. We had a good team to work with.”

The project was overseen by architect Joe Sekely.

The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum is at 400 Center St. in Dennison. Visit www.dennisondepot.org or call 740-922-6776.


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