Lebanon 's Famous Historical Corner Created Through a Vision, Hard Work and Dedication
LEBANON, OH -- When driving into the city of Lebanon it’s almost impossible not to notice the charming yellow brown trim building that sits on the corner of State Route 42 and 48.
Surrounded by trees and manicured flower gardens, the long red train that sits beside the building blends in so well that the scene becomes a perfect picture from days past. known to
many as "The Lebanon Station," this picturesque station wasn’t always this picturesque.
Almost 55 years ago, this corner looked much different. Rather than the quaint building that occupies the site today, this area had a very rundown freight building owned by Penn Central. Along with the dilapidated building, used cars and overgrown weeds covered the lot.
This was not the image that the late Doris Corson, who spear-headed the cleaning up of the corner and refurbishing the station, wanted people seeing when they entered Lebanon. Lebanon Council of Garden Clubs, a book published back in 2002, shares much of the station's history.
According to the handbook, Mary Alice Leasure and Mary Pat Austin of Lebanon Council of Garden Club, share the story of how back in 1971, Corson began meeting with the property's owner Penn Central.
She offered to lease the land for one dollar a year for 25 years. Penn Central was not interested in leasing. They wanted to sell it for $25,000. Along with the fact the garden clubs couldn’t afford that, Penn Central did not want to sell or lease to an unincorporated group.
To meet the requirements the Penn Central was requesting Lebanon Garden Club, Cedar City Garden Club, Town and Country Garden Club and Seed-N-Weed Garden Club did incorporate and formed the Lebanon Council of Garden Clubs.
After many negotiations, Penn Central dropped its asking price to $4,500. By April 1972, the Lebanon Council of Garden Clubs had raised the asking price and the deed to the dilapidated building and land was handed over to it. With deed in hand, the garden club was going to be able to do what I wanted to do ... clean up the corner.
The old freight station was torn down and plans were drawn to build a replica of the original passenger station that had been built on that site back 1881. Bids were received from $24,000 to $35,000 to do the project.
While the council at that time did not have that type of money to do this type of project, that challenge did not stop the group from pursuing its vision. Council borrowed $25,000 from the
local bank, which was backed by a $200 individual promissory notes from 120 of the women on the council. According to the handbook that was 90% of the membership.
This became a huge community project. Much of the materials, labor and cash for the undertaking were donations. A gentleman in memory of his late wife donated the roof. Sod was donated and laid by the high school boys. ODOT (Ohio Dept. of Transportation) removed the dirt and cinders, while a local businessman provided the topsoil so landscaping could be done.
Council Garden Club Members even got involved in the construction as they were taught how to lay the donated bricks that make a portion of the walkway. Kendricks local movers and wreckers moved the five-ton watchman's tower from Reading, Ohio.
Even the Lebanon Correctional Institution donated its efforts as the iron structure of the tower was taken to LCI for the inmates to scrape and paint. Jim Duff donated his time in restoring the wooden structure of the tower with the many of the materials that were donated by local merchants. Armco Steel Corp. provided a 60-foot flag pole while the American Legion Auxiliary presented council a flag that was raised at the Lebanon Station's Grand Opening in May 1974.
Today the station is used by Council of Lebanon Garden Clubs to hold meetings, have activities and do projects. The garden areas around the station are maintained by club groups or individuals.
Because of the dedication and hard work of many individuals within the Lebanon community and the collaboration of the City of Lebanon, who owns the railroad tracks, and the LM&M Railroad, who owns the train, this beautiful vibrant picture perfect corner is now one of Lebanon's most know landmarks.