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 Post subject: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:12 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
https://mailchi.mp/irm/irm-entrance-building

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The Illinois Railway Museum is proud to announce the completion of the planning phase for its circa 1958 Midwest Main Street scene. Fundraising for the centerpiece structure has officially commenced and sponsorship opportunities are available. The Entrance Building will be a two-story structure with 36,000 square feet of space featuring dedicated permanent and revolving exhibits, lecture and film presentation halls, educational learning centers, archival storage, offices, and expanded public facilities.

The proposed building will provide the necessary facilities to share our historic collection with the public and to provide the finest in educational treatments. It will include exhibit space, video displays, interpretive movies, lecture rooms, and educational learning centers.


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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:42 pm 

Joined: Sat May 07, 2016 1:12 am
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That is great news! I look forward to the rail yard concept to come to reality. A turntable, roundhouse and backstop with track heading to a town with a turning facility will really make the IRM a destination worthy of mention around the world. They have such potential if they can see the advantage of a mainline going to the nearest town to offer a destination for riders. That would help ridership more then a 'train ride to nowhere'. I think the location of the museum has hindered attendance from the start, however if track can be laid to a town it can help bring riders to the museum as well as offer tourism dollars to be spent in a specific location. Local communities can see the potential being 'linked' up by the IRM railroad. That could open up new sources of income for the museum as well. I wish the guys the best making this treasure destination a world class tourist trap. They are on the right track IMHO.


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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:57 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
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Very neat, typical midwestern main street, my hometown in Illinois has a very similar layout to this day, minus the theater and trolley. (Drawing from the IRM facebook page).


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26904686_1793690684023107_7297410468177300169_n.jpg
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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:18 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:08 am
Posts: 60
That looks fantastic.


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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:57 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8646
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
Here's a sincere question:

Will/can any of the space in question be dedicated to revenue-raising commercial retail, or at least opportunities for outsiders to take advantage?

I'm thinking in terms of, just to make up some examples, a temporary art gallery display, a theater presentation, the IRM bookshop being a "Main Street Bookshop," etc., local meetings being held occasionally, etc. I'm trying to imagine something in-between the Strasburg's good but touristy mix of eateries and kitschy shops and an actual downtown street.

I know IRM already has a classic diner (which I couldn't visit on Easter because it wasn't open) and a baggage car housing a book shop (ditto). I also know that IRM is, unfortunately, like many a shopping mall in that one has to get into a car and drive to an out-of-the-way location to go there, and you have to pay admission to access it, so it's not like someone could open a local cafe or bar there (like many UK excursion lines do).

More and more museums (and even churches, etc.) are thinking to design or offer space that can be used by outside groups for anything from weddings to election polling stations. This has the advantage of not only revenue opportunities but community engagement, so such a place is seen as a community asset, not just a bunch of folks playing trains/church/whatever. Beware, though--I've seen some such attempts retroactively declared to be afoul of local zoning or licensing laws, in the case of two churches, and this revenue could affect your tax-exempt status.


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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:31 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
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Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Here's a sincere question:

Will/can any of the space in question be dedicated to revenue-raising commercial retail, or at least opportunities for outsiders to take advantage?

I'm thinking in terms of, just to make up some examples, a temporary art gallery display, a theater presentation, the IRM bookshop being a "Main Street Bookshop," etc., local meetings being held occasionally, etc. I'm trying to imagine something in-between the Strasburg's good but touristy mix of eateries and kitschy shops and an actual downtown street.

I know IRM already has a classic diner (which I couldn't visit on Easter because it wasn't open) and a baggage car housing a book shop (ditto). I also know that IRM is, unfortunately, like many a shopping mall in that one has to get into a car and drive to an out-of-the-way location to go there, and you have to pay admission to access it, so it's not like someone could open a local cafe or bar there (like many UK excursion lines do).

More and more museums (and even churches, etc.) are thinking to design or offer space that can be used by outside groups for anything from weddings to election polling stations. This has the advantage of not only revenue opportunities but community engagement, so such a place is seen as a community asset, not just a bunch of folks playing trains/church/whatever. Beware, though--I've seen some such attempts retroactively declared to be afoul of local zoning or licensing laws, in the case of two churches, and this revenue could affect your tax-exempt status.


The revenue doesn't affect your tax-exempt status if handled correctly. From what I remember of the drawings, there is a large meeting space designed in the complex, as well as the theater. Both of which would give IRM some great facilities for groups, corporate events, and meetings year-round.

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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:24 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:34 pm
Posts: 652
Location: Union, IL
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Will/can any of the space in question be dedicated to revenue-raising commercial retail, or at least opportunities for outsiders to take advantage?

There's a distinction between the Entrance Building - which will be the cornerstone of Main Street and will function as a Visitors Center - and the Main Street scene as a whole. The Entrance Building is envisioned to include the museum's gift shop and bookstore (though perhaps not the Used Book Store, which is run separately) as well as some event space that could potentially be rented out for parties, smaller corporate meetings, etc. It will also include a theater for screening films, particularly visitor orientation and/or educational films, along with historic exhibits including the 1859 horse car and IC 201.

Then there's the rest of Main Street, which is planned to include a number of different "enterprises" in various buildings. There's the Schroeder Mercantile Store, which at the moment contains the gift shop but may house the Used Book Store (or something else) once the Entrance Building is built. There are also plans to move the Pullman Library to a new building on Main Street, include a structure for model train exhibits, and possibly provide housing for additional rail-related historic archives. Some structures are to be placed mainly for historic atmosphere, like the Sunoco gas station which is on hand but awaiting restoration.

It should be noted, however, that the Entrance Building is not yet funded. While other parts of Main Street are moving ahead separately, Entrance Building plans are contingent on raising the substantial funding necessary to build this structure. (And I should finally note that none of this is official IRM pronouncement but rather my impression of the current status of project planning and execution.)

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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:38 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:25 pm
Posts: 1862
Congratulations to the team at IRM for this update on Main St.

Creating a sense of "place" as IRM and others are doing is one way to stem the attendance slide addressed in another thread. Additionally, putting streetcars in a streetscape is an important interpretative tool.

Wesley


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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:55 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2216
Location: Northern Illinois
Others have spoken to the purpose of the building, both interior facilities and the facade to set the scene for the streetcar line. One thing that has been missing is any reference to what the external side that will face the parking lot will look like. Here is my suggestion :-)

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:26 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:34 pm
Posts: 652
Location: Union, IL
Dennis, it's just that sort of creative, outside-the-box thinking that I think Dave Diamond and the others on the Main Street Committee would be thrilled to see!

I've attached an image of the proposal for the north side of the building, facing the parking lot. It's fairly basic but does feature the lit-up letters from Chicago Union Station along the roof line. Far be it from a museum in Union to skip an opportunity for a good pun! Image is from http://hickscarworks.blogspot.com


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File comment: Entrance Building north elevation - photo from Hicks Car Works
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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:12 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2216
Location: Northern Illinois
Glad the joke was taken in the spirit intended, Frank.

Since we're pretty heavy into model railroading here at Accurail, it didn't take long for someone to realize that the street facade pretty much looks like the Walthers Cornerstone (tm) line of model buildings... Which is OK, because the guys at Wm. K. Walthers have done an excellent job of scouring the Midwest for typical buildings and interpreting them in their line. I'm sure the details of the facade will change as it becomes clear what IRM has to work with: there was already an article in a recnt issue of Rail & Wire about the salvaged terra cotta architectural details donated from a twenties era two story business building recently demolished on Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. I'm sure as fundraising progresses, so will the stockpiling of "stuff" that will lend authenticity to the finished facade.

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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:20 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:15 am
Posts: 484
Any idea if the Main St view above is going to be individual buildings/shops entered from Main St or is it going to be one building with shallow window displays (2-10 feet deep) and a multi-textural facade to emulate multiple buildings?

Or is the final design still in flux? I would think faux shops on the Main St face and a large continuous building behind would grant the most flexibility to usage.

Rich C.


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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:58 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 4:49 pm
Posts: 113
Location: San Jose, CA
JayZee wrote:
They have such potential if they can see the advantage of a mainline going to the nearest town to offer a destination for riders. That would help ridership more then a 'train ride to nowhere'.


I think that the reason that the line stops where it does has something to do with a natural barrier that needs to be bridged. Also, I don't know how far museum property extends.


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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:42 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2216
Location: Northern Illinois
crij wrote:
Any idea if the Main St view above is going to be individual buildings/shops entered from Main St or is it going to be one building with shallow window displays (2-10 feet deep) and a multi-textural facade to emulate multiple buildings?

Or is the final design still in flux? I would think faux shops on the Main St face and a large continuous building behind would grant the most flexibility to usage.

Rich C.


As I understand it, the "entrance building" that funds are now being raised for will be one large interior space with a multi building facade along the museum Main Street. How many of the individual entryways are actually functional remains to be seen.

Taking a larger view, the Main Street Scene, for want of a better name, will include the facade of the entry building, but also the O'Mahoney Diner, the 50th Avenue Rapid Transit station, a historic Sunoco filling station, a historic general store which was moved from the town of Union twenty or thirty years ago and has just now opened as a book store, a newly constructed storefront to house a model railroad display layout, and as many Railroad Historical Society archive/libraries as can be enticed to move there. Also likely the museum's own Pullman Library and Stranghorn Library. These additional buildings may be new construction, or historic buildings moved in, depending on cost, funding, and what is available. The intent is to eventually fill a block or two with period storefronts to provide a suitable setting for the streetcars and interurbans in the collection. The street railway will be used as a circulator system for the campus, as it is now. How this integrates with the existing depot and future roundhouse and servicing facilities remains to be seen, but I'm sure it's being considered as planning progresses.

As a side comment, when The National Railway Museum at Green Bay completed their "marble palace" a few years ago, they were also trying to entice historical society archives on site. I know the Soo Line Historical & Technical Society gave it some consideration, but a sticking point was the building was deep within the paid area of the campus, and no one would be allowed access unless they paid an admission, even if their only purpose for visiting was to access the archives. That idea was a non-starter, as was the fact that the archives would only be available during hours the museum was open; even to the volunteer archivists who might want to work well into the evening. The end result was the SLH&TS purchased their own building in Appleton. I Hope IRM can come up with a more elegant solution to the "dual access" needs of the historical societies.

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 Post subject: Re: Illinois Ry. Museum Plans Main St. Expansion
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:09 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
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JayZee wrote:
They have such potential if they can see the advantage of a mainline going to the nearest town to offer a destination for riders. That would help ridership more then a 'train ride to nowhere'. I think the location of the museum has hindered attendance from the start, however if track can be laid to a town it can help bring riders to the museum as well as offer tourism dollars to be spent in a specific location.


Wait what? "They have such potential" - what more do you want??? Some people can't be pleased I guess.


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