From Altoona Mirror: Train museum packed to move
The platform layouts at the Alto Model Train Museum in the Rockway
Building are vast expanses of plywood covered with miniature landscapes -
fields, hills, homes and stores - interlaced with tracks.
They're utterly non-portable.
the museum association will be moving them, because a bank has
foreclosed on the building and has begun eviction proceedings.
association members wonder whether they can find suitable space at an
affordable cost and doubt their mostly over-70 membership has the
manpower to transfer the layouts by the mid-July eviction deadline.
been panicking," said John Curfman, association president. "We just
have a lot of stuff to move and no place to move it to. That's our
The museum will likely need to scale down, he fears.
National Bank of Pennsylvania foreclosed against Rockway building
owners Gabriel and Roberta Pellegrini recently, according to the Blair
County register-recorder's office.
First National acquired the
property on Industrial Avenue at 29th Street at sheriff's sale for
$15,000, money that covered tax and other liens, according to Leslie
Ott, real estate clerk for the sheriff's office.
owed the bank $406,000 on the property, which has a market value of
$743,000, according to Ott and the register-recorder's office.
Pellegrini's engineering firm, Innovative Consulting Group, previously
headquartered in the building, recently completed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy
On receiving the eviction notice, Curfman tried
unsuccessfully to negotiate a deal to stay, offering to pay more rent
than the gift-level $2,000 the association has been paying the
Pellegrinis for the entire 6,000 square-foot third floor.
"But the [new] owners wanted us out," he said.
More recently, he asked the lawyer representing the bank for an extension, but he didn't get a reply immediately, he said.
The association members are breaking down the platforms to move them, Curfman said.
"They were built piece by piece, and that's how they have to come apart," he said.
He guessed that dismantling and resetting would take 300 man-hours or more.
He estimated it would also cost $2,000 for new materials.
The association can reuse the trains, tracks, buildings and scenery if members dismantle them carefully, he said.
And they can mark the plywood and the accessories to help in recreating the existing layouts, he said.
it might be more practical just to leave the plywood in place in the
Rockway building and start over, especially if a new location doesn't
allow for similar configurations, Curfman said.
If the association doesn't locate a new home before the eviction deadline, it could store some layout components temporarily.
"But the trouble with storage is you can tie up an awful lot of money," he said.
The association enlisted a real estate agent a few days ago.
Members were half-expecting eviction and had been scouting for a new location, but not seriously, Curfman said.
But after receiving the letter from the bank's lawyer, "we got real serious," he said.
were hoping they could find something downtown, where there's plenty of
space available, presumably for a reasonable price.
They've had no luck so far.
think people with space to rent would rent it cheaper, rather than have
it sit empty," Curfman said. "But that doesn't seem to be the case."
the association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, renting would create the
opportunity for a tax write-off for a landlord, Curfman said.
On Friday, at the museum, Curfman looked over the biggest of the six platforms.
"Can you imagine dismantling all this?" he asked. "My back hurts already."