After nearly eight years of meetings, phone calls, lobbying, fundraising and last-minute reprieves, those trying to save the historic Moline train depot have come to this — salvaging a few pieces from the building's facade.
Within the past week, members of the Moline Preservation Society leaned ladders against the building that stands in the way of a ramp for the new Interstate 74 bridge and, using hand tools, removed the large exterior clock as well as some of the decorative terra cotta trim around it.
They hope to eventually install it in the city's new Q transportation hub at 12th Street and 4th Avenue, along with photos of what the building looked like and documentation of its history, said Craig Sommers, a representative of the preservation society.
Members will do as much salvaging as they can until Monday, when the depot will become the property of the Illinois Department of Transportation. The department expects to let bids for its demolition in April.
Preservationists had long staked their confidence in the building's future on the national historic preservation act that states that if there is a designated landmark in the way of a federal project, the project either has to move around the landmark or move the landmark.
In 2013 they thought they had found the perfect solution — the depot would be moved just down the road to the new riverfront campus of Western Illinois University where it would be renovated for some new use.
But that deal fell through the next year when Western said it no longer wanted the building because estimated renovation costs were too high.
As preservationists scrambled to find an alternative, the transportation department announced that it would no longer pay for a move because state funds had been frozen, and it did not have the money.
"The IDOT was inflexible," Sommers said.
In December, the Moline City Council passed an ordinance agreeing to sell the depot to the DOT for $500.
In addition to salvage work by the Moline Preservation Society, members of the Gateway Redevelopment Group, which works in Davenport's historic Gold Coast neighborhood, have been salvaging clay tile from the building's roof.