High View Depot, Bloomingburg
One of Sullivan County’s renovated train stations
Maureen and Tom Darmetko transformed the dilapidated High View Depot into a stunning, five-bedroom home. Below right, they paid tribute to the building’s railroad roots by creating an intricate metal O&W logo on the front door
It was in piteous condition,” says Maureen Darmetko about the first time she laid eyes on the former High View train station in Sullivan County. “It was really just a shell at that point.” That was in 1988; Maureen, an interior designer, and her husband Tom, a contractor, were living comfortably in Brooklyn with their three young children. So when the pair purchased the old cement building with plans to transform it into a home, “everyone thought we were nuts. Everyone,” says Darmetko.
At the end of the 19th century, the O&W Railway was the best way for New York City passengers to make their way to the Catskill Mountains. Built in 1898, the 3,200-square-foot High View Depot in Bloomingburg was a bustling travel hub known for its beautiful mission-style architecture. But after the O&W went bust in 1957, the station was abandoned. “It had been used as a bunch of different things, including as a pig farm at one point,” says Darmetko. “And of course kids have come in here throughout the years.”
The Darmetkos embarked on a 15-year renovation project. “Our kids got to ride their bikes through the whole house, draw on the walls, whatever they wanted,” she recalls about their early years in the depot. The pair more or less gutted the building; only an original brick fireplace remains, in the dramatic rounded space that once served as the station’s waiting room. “Well, the metal steel column in the middle of that room is original too,” says Darmetko. “Obviously, it would have been nice if that wasn’t there, but that’s a main supporting structure.” Today, the room — decorated with an original William Morris block print — is the centerpiece of the home. “We have had the best parties here,” says Darmetko, “including a Titanic Party, where everyone came dressed to kill.”
Still, the design-savvy duo took pains to ensure that they paid homage to the building’s railroad roots. They fashioned an O&W logo and placed it on the front door; a railroad tie found on the property has been transformed into a mantel in the kitchen; and the shed they built in the back could easily be mistaken for an original railroad structure. The only addition they made to the building was their master suite, which has stunning massive windows and a balcony with views of the mountains.
But it is when she is in her office, says Darmetko, that she is most conscious of the fact that she lives in an old train station. “It was the ticket room. There is a big bay window; that’s exactly where people used to walk up to get their tickets. I have my computer and I sit there; it’s a fun place to work.”
Of course, Darmetko doesn’t have to remind herself where she lives very often; the regular stream of train buffs who stop by do that. Many are particularly interested in the historic, one-mile-long tunnel that starts on her property and bores through the mountain on the way to Mamakating. Completed in 1871, it was one of four tunnels on the O&W line and was one of the first in the country to be worked on concurrently from both ends. It is no longer safe to enter it, says Darmetko. “Much of the tunnel has collapsed, so you have heaps of shale in there. Also, it’s flooded, sometimes it’s over your head. People have died in there,” she says.
Recently, the Darmetkos have put the beautiful five-bedroom house on the market. “It’s a really interesting place,” says Darmetko. “People are fascinated by it all.”
See more photos of the Darmetko house in the gallery below.