NORTH WALES, PA – SEPTA joined local officials and community members, for a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the completion of renovation work at the North Wales Station.
The celebration is the latest in a series – with plenty more to come – resulting from SEPTA’s emphasis in recent years on renewing its aging system. A major component of this is aimed at improving customer service through a variety of improvements to stations, while also upgrading and replacing infrastructure, such as rail and overhead wires.
Renovating the North Wales Station, which serves nearly 1,600 Lansdale/Doylestown Regional Rail Line customers a day, presented SEPTA with significant challenges, but also a unique opportunity: fully modernize a transit hub without disturbing its status as a local historical landmark. The result was a two-phase, $6.8 million project that brought the station well into the 21st century while preserving its Civil War-era roots.
“The North Wales Station represents SEPTA’s past, present and future,” said General Manager Joseph M. Casey. “With these renovations complete, SEPTA will be able to serve the customers who rely on the station at the highest possible level well into its second century.”
Riders are now enjoying first-class amenities such as heated shelters, new high-level platforms, parking lot improvements and landscaping upgrades. The facility also now fully meets accessibility requirements as set forth under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
But one of the most popular pieces of this project may come from work that hasn’t been done: painting the building’s eye-catching brick facade. That was not the initial plan, but SEPTA changed course – thanks to passionate pleas to keep the building’s unique character in tact.
Due to stipulations of federal funding that helped pay for the project, SEPTA was required to follow laws designed to preserve the historical character of buildings like the North Wales Station. Officials determined the building should be painted in a cream color to restore it to its look in the early 1900s, when it was part of the Reading Railroad. The tasks required to make this happen, however, led to a pleasant surprise – and a call for a change.
As workers wiped away decades of dirt and old peeling paint to get the building ready for a fresh coat, they wound up revealing the natural beauty of the brick exterior, which some historical experts believe represents how the station looked in its first days of service in the 1800s. Feedback from customers and the community was positive and strong: Leave the brick unpainted. SEPTA took notice, and responded by renewing discussions about the project with state and federal officials – with the goal of keeping the brick exposed. SEPTA will continue to work with all parties involved to try to reach this outcome.