MARSHALL, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Marshall Public Library has made some fun and creative additions to the Children’s Area that were inspired by the city’s history.
Patrons have been able to appreciate the theme of the Children’s Area, which was inspired by the children’s book series The Box Car Children since 1996. With a one-of-a-kind boxcar that was built by City of Marshall employees, the theme was supported by the City Board Trustee of the time, Daralea Smith.
In 2019 the library underwent extensive renovations that altered the look of the Children’s Area. While the boxcar remained, a lot of the other previous train-inspired elements of the area were gone. Then in 2020, the library started to feature historic photos that had been donated by Friend of the Library Eleanor Macke. In one of the photos that were donated, the Vandalia Station, a Marshall train depot built in the 1800s, sparked a renewed inspiration for the Children’s Area.
With the theme secured, library director Alyson Thompson reached out to a local artist and a local carpenter to help complete the vision. Painter and muralist Jo Rich-Vadas and carpenter Randy McGinnis worked to create a small train depot inspired by the historic Vandalia Station.
The Vandalia Train Depot in the Children’s Area of the Marshall Public Library now features a hand-painted mural, hand-made structures to replicate the station, and a suspended miniature train. The muralist, Jo Rich-Vadas depicts a scene of what the inside of the original Vandalia Station may have looked like. The mural also includes a scene showcasing the history of the Romani people that once were a part of Marshall’s community.
While the mural covers a lot of the local history, carpenter Randy McGinnis’s depot structure was built using unique dentil molding work that is similar to what the real Vandalia Train Station may have had.
The original Vandalia Station was placed along the Terre Haute and Alton line that ran east to west transporting people from Terre Haute to St. Louis. The station was built in 1891 and was a passenger train service until the mid-1950s and became a freight depot for a few years before it was ultimately demolished in 1959.
Those interested in learning more about the Children’s Area, or the Marshall Public Library can visit the library’s website, Facebook, or visit the library at 612 Archer Avenue, in Marshall, Illinois.