Depot Project Gets Boost with $10,000 Matching Challenge

The potential for a big boost to the $195,000 currently raised by donations from generous community donors came recently from Dante Stephensen, a Carleton alum with interest in railroads and this depot. Dante recently issued a $10,000 matching challenge to Northfield residents in support of the Save the Northfield Depot project. He has a long-term and interesting connection to Northfield and railroads (see bio below).

This big boost to the project is particularly significant when combined with the City Council’s recent permission to move the depot when we reached $228,000 in funding. The $228,000 will cover the depot repair, new foundation with basement and move; fundraising for the additional $65,000 for interior renovation will be postponed until the depot is on the new site. Once we own the depot on the new site, we anticipate having access to grants and other sources to help refurbish the interior.

Every dollar donated now to Save the Northfield Depot will be matched, dollar for dollar. A successful match yielding a total of $20,000 will push the total raised to $215,000 and reduce the funding gap to only $12,000, which must be raised before the move—now anticipated this fall.

To secure a fall moving date, Save the Northfield Depot is asking community members to help meet the challenge match with cash or appreciated stock. Donations of volunteer time as well as in-kind services and materials will also help us move the depot this fall. Contributions can be mailed to Save the Northfield Depot (712 4th St. E, Northfield, MN, 55057) or made on our GiveMN page. E-mails can be sent to Rob Martin at to tell us about possible in-kind service or materials donations.

We are grateful for the community’s past support; all donations are appreciated and will help move the project forward.

About Dante Stephensen

To say that Dante Stephensen has had a long-term passion for railroads and trains would be an understatement. Growing up in Chicago as the son of immigrants, he started working early and by the age of 15 he was working as a section hand or “gandy dancer” maintaining railroad tracks. During his college years, he used the Milwaukee Road 1888 depot in his trips to and from Chicago and worked summers for the railroad as a fireman, brakeman, and switchman.

Besides being a railroad aficionado and a man with many interests and hobbies, he owned a highly successful restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, operating for decades the nationally recognized “Dante’s Down the Hatch.” The popular nightclub known for its jazz was first located in the old Underground Atlanta site in 1970.

In Northfield, he is probably better known as the Carleton graduate who brought his train car, Survivor, to Northfield several times in the late 1970s through early 1990s to help raise money for his class reunions. After riders donated to Carleton, they would board Survivor in Chicago and ride with Dante to Northfield where the car was parked at Malt-O-Meal during the reunions.

Dante and his residence “The Survivor”—the private railroad car built for the Woolworth family in 1926 that he purchased and restored in 1982

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