Water leak floods railroad museum, closing it for repairs

Published 3:35 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023

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A weekend water leak forced Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum to close for repairs.

Officials posted the news on the museum Facebook page Saturday, Aug. 5, letting everyone know it would be “closed indefinitely for emergency repairs and restoration.” Additionally, all events and museum tours are canceled until further notice, according to the post

Suffolk Tourism Development Manager Theresa Earles a pipe burst occurred in the museum’s attic sometime between Friday night after closing and Saturday morning when staff arrived to open at 9 a.m.

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The staff opened the doors to discover the flood.

“We are currently working with Servpro to dry out the building and assess the damage,” Earles said. “We will know more in the coming weeks regarding repairs and restoration needs, but it is too soon to know how long the museum will remain closed to the public.” 

Earles stressed the importance of being “cognizant” of the unique approach needed for restoring a historic structure. 

“As of now, there does not appear to be damage to the HO-scale model, but we will need to reassess once power is restored and the building is inhabitable,” she said.

Built in 1885 in the Queen Anne style during the Victorian age, the station has remained basically unchanged through the years. Features include an interesting tower with a beautiful, walnut, spiral staircase.

This restored Main Street station features a two-room HO-scale model of Suffolk in 1907 that was built by the Tidewater Division of the National Model Railroad Association. ​The museum features railroad memorabilia ​and changing exhibits. 

The station was last used for rail by CSX as a freight office and then was abandoned. 

In 1994 a disastrous fire occurred and the station was in danger of being demolished, according to the museum’s history online. At that time the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society began a movement to “Save Our Station.” After several years of fundraising efforts and in partnership with the City of Suffolk, grants got the renovation underway. It officially opened in August 2000.

With the help of volunteers the station stayed open to the public from Wednesday through Sunday each week, the museum website states. It was supported through donations and a gift shop. The Historical Society sold the station back to the City of Suffolk in July 2017, and a grand re-opening was held in October 2017.

For museum information, visit suffolktrainstation.com or facebook.com/SuffolkRailroadMuseum.