Restoration of 1920s Pullman sleeping car underway in Dennison

Restoration of 1920s Pullman sleeping car underway in Dennison

The car was manufactured by the Pullman Company in the 1920s. It will rest beside the Depot Museum.


Luxury travel by rail, all but extinct in the United States since the 1960s, conjures up images of well-appointed Pullman sleeping cars with tightly made beds and attentive care. It’s a rarefied and vanished experience soon to be available again in Dennison and will only lack that clackity-clack of the wheels.

The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum has begun restoration of an upscale 1920s Pullman sleeping car, which will be available for overnight bed and breakfast stays beginning in early 2021. Museum director Wendy Zucal said the project is a natural for the popular tourist spot and will extend the museum’s ability to provide visitors with plenty of reasons to linger.

“We’ve had the idea to do this for quite a while,” Zucal said. “We acquired the Pullman car from the Ohio Railway Museum in Columbus about 5 years ago and transported it here. It is a real time capsule from the ‘20s. It’s the real deal.”

Restoration of the car falls to bid-winning Gor-Con Construction of Dover. “The interior fittings, light fixtures, seats and original plumbing have been removed and are being either carefully restored or replicated,” Zucal said. “The seats will all be reupholstered, and everything gets fresh paint and carpentry.”

The project follows on the heels of the cosmetic restoration of a steam engine in the museum’s collection, which will be paired with the Pullman car at the side of the Depot Museum. “It all goes together,” Zucal said. “The restored track, the engine, the train cars, all of it adds to the appearance and interest of the museum.”

Not only will the restored car offer a new gem in the museum’s collection and an artifact of great interest for visitors, but also it will serve the very practical purpose of providing a place to stay in the village.

“There are no hotel rooms, no bed and breakfast homes, no Airbnb in Dennison. We get a lot of visitors every year, and this will offer a unique place to stay and spend more time with us,” said Zucal, who added that the Christmastime Polar Express ride for children garners an annual 12,000 visitors alone.

The end of the restoration will see eight sleeping compartments with pull-down beds and available bathrooms. “There will also be some modern amenities, like a television and coffee makers,” Zucal said.

The project satisfies several goals. “It encourages longer stays. It adds to the overall visitor experience. The bed tax will help the village. The added traffic helps our restaurant. And new jobs will be created,” Zucal said.

Checking so many boxes helped secure funding for the project from an ODOT grant that aims to help with transportation-related projects in the state and from the Appalachian Regional Commission. “The project is all paid for,” Zucal said.

“Before” tours are available, and the car will be available for tours once completed.

“It will be an absolutely unique experience to stay there,” Zucal said. “It’s a place to stay in Dennison, something that has been sorely lacking. It also adds to the overall museum experience, and we’re very excited about it. Everything about the car is being carefully repaired, cleaned and restored before being reassembled. We know from previous restorations how much you can do to transform a rail car like this, and it will be beautiful.”

The Pullman Company manufactured luxury passenger sleeping cars from 1867-1968 that were used around the world.

The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum recreates the significant role railroads have played in the history of the village, particularly marking the World War II period, during which the village was a hub for transporting soldiers to training destinations and assignments. The museum is at 400 Center Street and online at

Loading next article...

End of content

No more pages to load