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Depot looks for historic recognition

WESTPORT - When they first moved in, the Depot Theatre had a lot of work to do.

Now, over 30 years later, their work may soon be rewarded with a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Chris Casquilho, managing director of the Depot Theatre, said the company is in the process of finalizing an application to be considered for the register.

"Jenny Jones-Cavanaugh started up this application process 12 years ago," Casquilho said. "I was looking through the work last year and we decided that we should take this up again and get it done."

The theatre recently received the support of the Westport town board, which voted to endorse the quest to gain historic recognition at its board meeting on Dec. 16.

"We needed to get that letter of endorsement and they passed the measure and sent a letter of endorsement that will be used as part of the application," said Casquilho. "We have a bunch of letters of recommendation from a number of agencies and historic organizations, as well."

As part of the application, Casquilho said there were four criteria that a site should meet in order to be considered for the register. He said there were two in particular that the depot fit perfectly into.

"There was one that dealt with the site being associated with events that are significant in the local history and another that has to do with the building embodying historical characteristics," Casquilho said.

As far as the depot being involved with historical events, Casquilho pointed out that the building was built during the golden age of rail transportation and has been used as a key station along the Canadian-Pacific Railway.

"It was a great era of train transportation when this station was constructed in 1876," Casquilho said. "This has been an important line all the while. Westport has had a lot of big guests who have used ts depot, and it was a key shuttling station during the Olympics in 1980 and I'm sure in 1932 as well."

Casquilho added that the improvements that have been made to the building since the depot took over in 1979 have also been impressive and added to the historical value of the property.

"It has been re-invented and re-invigorated with energy ever since," Casquilho said. "There have been significant investments made here by the Depot Theatre, AmTrak, and the New York State Council on the Arts. To get historic recognition would validate a lot of those efforts."

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