Sycamore Train Depot

Sycamore, Illinois

Originally built in 1880 by the Sycamore Cortland and Chicago Railroad, this Italianate gem had fallen into disrepair over many decades. Privately owned for decades, the building had been used for storage purposes. In 2011 the City of Sycamore, led by City Manager Mr. Bill Nicklas, spearheaded an effort to purchase the building from the current owner. The City’s goal was to see that structural issues were resolved and the exterior envelope was weather tight and the historic building would be saved. The City approached Sharp Architects Inc. for our guidance in achieving this result. In response to this request, we developed a design-build specification to clearly define the scope of work and the quality of products that would be required of the Contractor. Through a generous private donation and TIF funds from the City of Sycamore, the exterior of the building was transformed and the structure was stabilized.

Structural work focused on re-supporting the entire wood first floor structure. Exterior renovations included new roofing, masonry restoration, and new aluminum clad window and doors at all of the openings. The resulting transformation was nothing short of extraordinary. Both the brick façade and stone foundations were in need of considerable attention. The brick façade was cleaned with gentle power washing and brushing and then both the brick and the stone were tuck pointed. Rotting plywood soffits and fascias were replaced with fiber cement and gutters and downspouts were added to direct water away from the building. Original metal dentils and frieze at the north façade were prepped and painted. Historical photographs were consulted to determine the mullion pattern for the two story portion of the building. Loading bay doors were replaced with French doors to allow more light into the Freight Room.

Our intent was to closely match the original design as was practical, but to also open up the one story portion for public purposes. The rehabilitation will include cleaning and tuck pointing of the brick and stone foundations and replacement of the roof. New aluminum clad, low-e glass windows and doors will replace all of the existing openings. The Italianate frieze will be re-built with fiber cement. It is hoped that future renovations will include replacement of the ornate pairs of brackets and additional moldings and dentils for the frieze.

They City of Sycamore announced in the fall of 2011 that they would be gifting the building to the DeKalb County Community Foundation, a local non-profit organization who provides crucial funding for numerous projects around DeKalb County. The building now houses the offices of their organization and a large community room which they make available for meetings, weddings, and other public gatherings. The design meshes modern, functional and historical aspects to create a bright, vibrant and useful new space.

Client: The DeKalb County Community Foundation

Project Size: 5,103 SQFT.

Completed: 2012