Victim of Neglect : Fullerton May Restore Train Station

Times Staff Writer

For nearly 60 years, the Fullerton train station has stood alongside the Santa Fe Railroad line and since 1971 has been a regular stop for Amtrak trains.

In that time this product of Spanish colonial architecture has been the victim of neglect. There are cracks in the plaster, dry rot in the wood and there is ceiling and floor damage from a leaky roof. But in a redevelopment effort, the Fullerton City Council has hired a local contractor to do at least $400,000 worth of restoration work and to get the building on the National Register, which would give it a historical designation.

Earlier this month, the City Council unanimously approved a proposal from Bushala Brothers Inc. to spruce up the station and add a gift shop, newsstand and cafe. In the agreement, the Bushala firm would purchase a 105-year lease for $150,000 and restore the station for a minimum of $400,000.

However, all plans are tentative because the city is still in the process of purchasing the station through eminent-domain procedures. Fullerton City Manager William C. Winter said the city first became interested in buying the building last year when the owner, the Fullerton Mortgage & Escrow Co., wanted to tear it down.

According to Terry Galvin, Fullerton redevelopment manager, a hearing has been set for June 19 in Santa Ana to determine the selling price. Galvin said a city appraisal has valued the station at $500,000, and he does not anticipate having to pay much more than that.

Tony Bushala, vice president of Bushala Brothers Inc., said he hopes to start work by Sept. 1 and finish within 6 to 9 months. He expects the work will cost around $550,000.

During a tour of the station Friday, Bushala pointed out damage brought on by age, weather and neglect. He said he is looking forward to restoring the station's original beauty and installing modern conveniences.

"We love that building," Bushala said. "We've always had an admiration for that building. It's one of the most unique in Orange County."

Galvin said that 350,000 passengers come through Fullerton Station each year and that the city hopes to build a second loading platform on the other side of the tracks so two trains can be boarded at once.

Fullerton Station first became a stop on the Santa Fe line in 1888 and was called La Habra Station, according to county historian Jim Sleeper. In 1929 the original building was razed and the current building put up by Fullerton contractor E. J. Herbert at a cost of $50,000. It is the last surviving office of the Santa Fe Railroad in Orange County.

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