$200K Roof Donation Funds Santa Clara Station Repairs

Post Date

By Dan Lieberman, @LiebermanTweets

Work has begun on the roof of the historic Santa Clara Station, at a cost of $230,000. But this isn’t the usual kind of story we do about the work it takes to maintain the Caltrain corridor and the infrastructure that supports it. Instead, we’re talking about Joe Hoffman, the man that made it possible by donating the entirety of his $1.2 million estate to the South Bay Historical Railroad Society.

For those who don’t know, the Santa Clara Station doesn't just serve Caltrain riders, but is the home of the Edward Peterman Museum of Railroad History. Since 1989, the museum has educated and entertained thousands of rail fans, young and old. It’s full of historical artifacts, buildings and cars from the golden age of rail and a massive model train set. Hoffman, the museum’s curator (as well as the President, Chairman, Treasurer and many other roles over the years), was a major part of building this collection, which honored and preserved the history of the railroad that was so instrumental to how the Peninsula developed.

Workers install tar paper on the Santa Clara Station roof, April 2021.

Hoffman’s work resonated throughout every aspect of the organization. He made sure to stay on top of all the bills, kept the place in good working order, began extensive outreach to young people as well as the developmentally disabled and set them up to perform major projects, like repainting the tower, and improving the foundation of the speeder shed. Given the historical nature of this facilities, many of them more than a century old, restoring them is a laborious and delicate process, requiring expertise and a sizable amount of funding, with the roof work currently underway being the most substantial project undertaken so far. Given that the largest donation before this was a $55,000 of historical train paraphernalia, you can see how Hoffman’s generosity will make a massive difference in the years to come.

So, whether Santa Clara is your regular station, or if you’ve never set foot on the property, find some time to swing by once the Museum has reopened to the public. It’s a unique and charming place to learn about our own history, full of dedicated volunteers that are happy to teach you anything you’d like to know about the railroad. And while you’re there, remember Joe Hoffman, the man who not only helped make it happen, but who literally kept the roof on the building.