Save the Northfield Depot Trio￼
Alice Thomas waited patiently for a meeting of the Northfield in Bloom Committee to commence. The City Administrator arrived late saying he had just met with the Fire Department regarding a plan by the railroad to burn the 1888 Northfield Depot. In a place that prides itself on preserving our history and legacy, that idea didn’t sit well. Thompson, having lived in town for over 40 years at the time understood the dilemma; she had seen the depot disintegrate and the history being destroyed by time, vagrants or youth seeking nefarious entertainment options.
Public meetings were held to determine the answer to three questions: Should we save it? Where should it go? What could it be used for? The answers came and the Mission Statement was written in 2010 to Save the Northfield Depot. At last, the building was moved in 2016. Volunteers had persevered but only three of them are still involved today: joining Thomas are Clark Webster and Rob Martin.
The Northfield trio made a trip to Minneapolis to talk to the Canadian Pacific Plaza, the company that owned the building when the railroad failed to meet with the City a year after asking for the conversation. The three knew that the railroad had been willing to pay $14,000 to take down the building so they began by asking if that amount could be donated to the restoration. The railroad declined and the $35,000 required to move the building had to be raised.
Thomas, the Secretary and Communications volunteer said the City of Northfield was in possession of land that had never been used and they offered to donate it with the contingency that if a Transit Hub was ever required it would have a place. This first donation led to funds coming in from hundreds of people. Fondly, Thomas recalled being at work on the depot’s restoration and observing a young lad about eight years old outside with his grandfather watching the trains. She greeted him and he asked if “All this hard work was going to cost a lot of money.” Replying yes, it would, the boy reached in his pocket and pulled out a dollar bill saying that he wanted to help.
Projects remain and funds still need to be raised for the historic depot. This summer a fountain will be hooked up outside. The landscaping and beautiful brick work will be enhanced by this additional beauty. Finishing the basement is another plan for the future.
This trio of Save the Northfield Depot volunteers has worked tirelessly with others to raise money, meet with State of Minnesota as well as City officials and the railroad. The depot lives a new life and serves as a venue for utilization by nonprofit organizations. The Q Block has had a new and beautiful facelift because, “Northfielders don’t give up!” The committee has lost three of the original stakeholders in the process. Lynn Vincent, Pat Allen and Steve Edwins, the architect that took the original expansion plans from 1917 have all passed away since the Depot restoration began.
We thank Alice Thomas, Clark Webster and Rob Martin for their vision, their perseverance and the physical efforts they have given to save this local historical site.
We are glad to have FOUND you at the Depot!
Local Historical Site Designation. Although designated as a local historical site in 1980, the 1888 depot was reassessed because it had been moved. A 37-page document compiled by Save the Northfield Depot provided evidence with photos and detailed descriptions of the efforts to adhere to preservation guidelines in the renovation decisions. The application was first assessed by the State Historic Preservation Office which noted that the depot was “meticulously rehabilitated.” The application was subsequently reviewed by the local Heritage Preservation Commission and the Planning Commission. All three bodies recommended designation as a Local Historical Site to the Council, which approved the resolution.