Public Square Project

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What is the Public Square project?

Public Square is a truly unique community project. With development occurring over multiple years and in several phases, this venue will become a much-loved and vibrant hub, where residents and visitors of all ages can gather to celebrate our rich heritage, enjoy our small town charm, and create lasting memories!

It will be more than a park – it will be Plain City’s front porch.

The Depot at Public Square - Current Phase
The Depot at Public Square is the primary anchor for the Public Square project. This 1880s historic rail depot, relocated from the Columbus area, will provide small event and meeting space, visitor amenities, historical displays, seasonal retail space, and acknowledgment of Plain City’s rich railroad heritage.

The Park at Public Square - Future Phase
The Park at Public Square will include a railroad-themed play area, splash pad, seating and fire pit, interpretive signage, trailhead, and green space for outdoor community events.

The Marketplace at Public Square - Future Phase
The Marketplace at Public Square will provide all-season event and vendor space for a year-round farmers market, movies in the park, holiday market, winter ice rink, and so much more.

Project Updates

06/28/2024: A Thanks to the advocacy of State Representative Brian Stewart (R-Ashville), the Village's Public Square project will receive $401,250 in funding through the state's capital appropriation grant. The grant will be integral in completing the first phase of the project. Included in this phase is the majority of the park plaza, including the depot installation, utility hook-ups, plaza construction, landscaping beds, and sidewalks. This funding will allow phase one to occur ahead of schedule, with engineering being completed this fall and construction tentatively scheduled to begin in early 2025. Upon completion, future phases will begin to move forward. The Village extends its upmost thanks to Representative Stewart for securing this funding.

06/17/2024: A historical 1949 Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Railway caboose acquired by the Village has been delivered! The caboose was procured from Mr. Tree Christmas Tree Farm in Blacklick, Ohio. It was originally brought to the farm by former owner/operator Paul "Pat" Patterson and has stood as a local landmark for over three decades. 

Constructed in 1949, the caboose has a steel exterior and stands 12 feet tall, 10 feet wide, and 40 feet long. It also features its original C&O markings, including "Chessie the Kitten," which was prominently featured in its logo for generations. Originally established in 1869, the C&O Railway expanded over the years, eventually becoming CSX Transportation in the 1980s. The Plain City area continues to be served by CSX. 

Now that the caboose is in Plain City, it will be secured at a safe location where it will undergo an authentic restoration process. The original color and markings will be retained. Following the restoration, the caboose will be relocated to the site of the Public Square project. The Village welcomes individuals or organizations with expertise in vintage railroad equipment and history to contribute to the planning and execution of the restoration project.

05/16/2024: After several months of preparation, the disassembled components of the depot structure arrived in Plain City via semi-truck, thanks to crews from Dingey Movers of Zanesville, Ohio. Although the building is currently disassembled, it will soon be reconstructed on-site once the new foundation is complete.

05/2/2024: The depot structure has been fully disassembled and is now waiting to be transported to Plain City!

04/16/2024: Crews from Outdoor-FX, Inc and the Village's Public Works Department have begun dismantling the depot at its current location in anticipation of its relocation and reconstruction in Plain City later this summer. The interior of the depot is being carefully disassembled, with components being moved into temporary storage. Elements of the depot, such as flooring, walls, windows, doors, etc. will be preserved and reincorporated, while surplus furnishings will be auctioned at a later date. The brick patio (pavers and railroad ties) encircling the depot has been dismantled and transported to Plain City, where it will be reinstalled following the reconstruction of the depot.

Site preparation at the new location is also underway. Crews have removed fencing and will soon begin site leveling to allow the construction of a new foundation and the installation of utilities. The exact date for the depot's opening to the public remains unclear, but is anticipated for late fall or early winter. In the meantime, planning for the public plaza, splash pad, playground, and other site amenities are ongoing.

Media Releases

Conceptual Renderings
Please note that the renderings and graphic representations showcased on this page are purely conceptual and serve as preliminary visualizations for the project. The final design has not been determined and it is highly likely that alterations will be made as the project progresses. These visuals are intended to provide an initial glimpse into our creative vision and should be viewed as a starting point rather than a definitive depiction of the final outcome.

The Depot at Public Square
The initial phase of the project, known as The Depot at Public Square, involves the relocation of a historic 1880s rail depot from the Upper Arlington, Ohio area to Plain City's historic Uptown District. In February 2024, Village Council approved the purchase of the depot from the Fromm Family of Upper Arlington, Ohio. The 1,473-square foot depot was originally constructed in Brice, Ohio to serve the Shawnee and Columbus Railway. In 2004, the depot was relocated to Northwest Columbus where it underwent a meticulous reconstruction and restoration by Barry Fromm. Many of the original depot components were retained, including the original wooden walls and ceilings, while others were salvaged from other historical structures. The depot was the centerpiece of a larger rail collection, which also included three historic train cars that Barry restored and preserved. The Fromm family selected Plain City to acquire the Depot based on Plain City’s vision for the Depot to serve in the Public Square project.

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Summer 2024: Depot Relocation & ReconstructionUpon being dismantled and shipped to Plain City, the depot will serve as the cornerstone of the larger Public Square project, where it will provide space for events, visitor amenities, commercial ventures, and historical displays. Relocation is anticipated to occur in June 2024 with the facility opening to the public in early 2025.

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Why Public Square?
The location of the relocated depot, and the Public Square project, pays homage to Plain City’s rich history. Historical maps from 1862 and 1875 reveal that the area slated for the Public Square project was referred to as "Public Square." Positioned at the corner of East Bigelow Avenue and Church Street, this site served as the original location for Plain City’s town hall, fire department, school, and other early community buildings. Currently owned by the Village, the site is undergoing preparation, including the addition of a new public parking lot. The name "Public Square" for this project is not only due to its location on the historically recognized public square but also because public squares have always been significant spaces for community engagement.

Plain City's Railroad History
When considering purchasing the depot, Village officials cited Plain City’s ties to the railroad industry, which dates back to July 4, 1853, when the first train passed through the community, then known as Pleasant Valley, on the Columbus & Indiana Central Railway (a predecessor of the Pennsylvania Railroad and later, Conrail). It later hosted the Abraham Lincoln Funeral Train in 1865. By the late 1800s, Plain City was one of the leading stations in Ohio for shipping livestock. Large corrals in the community held cattle, sheep, and hogs. Items from all over the country could be shipped in as well, for example, stores in town frequently advertised fresh oysters for sale, brought in from the east coast. In addition to the economic advantages provided by the railroad, it also served as an important link to Columbus and points beyond. After passenger service ended in the 1940s, the Village’s original depot was demolished in the 1960s. The final train passed through Plain City on July 17, 1986.

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Future Project Phases
Beyond the depot, future phases of the Public Square project will unveil The Park at Public Square. This outdoor gathering space will include a splash pad, children’s play area, trailhead, event space, fire pit, and inviting seating areas. Looking ahead, there are plans to repurpose an existing historical building into The Marketplace at Public Square. This indoor marketplace will offer dedicated space for seasonal vendors, small businesses, and a variety of community events. These phases will occur as funding becomes available.

The Public Square project is a testament to Plain City's commitment to fostering economic growth and community engagement. Recognizing the importance of preserving and honoring history, and building connections to its past as the community continues to grow, Plain City embraces this initiative as a meaningful step towards a vibrant and connected future.

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