Save the Northfield Depot did just that, as evidenced in the groundbreaking ceremony and celebration on Friday, October 9, on the new site for Northfield’s 1888 depot.
First organized in 2008 in response to the railroad’s proposal to the city to demolish the building, Save the Northfield Depot supporters have worked diligently on their fundraising efforts and on agreements with Canadian Pacific Railway for the building and the City of Northfield for a site for its new location.
“This milestone could not have been possible without the generosity of the citizens of Northfield who have supported the project—through their donations, their volunteer efforts, and their encouraging words,” said Lynn Vincent, co-chair of Save the Northfield Depotboard of directors.
Addressing the group of about 110 who gathered for the event were Lynn Vincent and fellow co-chair Rob Martin, Mayor Dana Graham, City Councilwoman Suzie Nakasian, State Representative David Bly, president of the Northfield Chamber of Commerce Todd Bornhauser, and retiring Minnesota State Rail Plan project manager Dave Christianson. Many remarks touched on the promising role of the depot and the future complex with a pavilion and possible transit hub to serve as a catalyst for economic development and as an attraction for visitors.
“The completed complex will not only save this historic depot,” observed Rob Martin, “but also enhance a blighted lot and serve as a catalyst to economic development in the area.”
Mayor Graham, one of the speakers at the event, also cited the many ways in which the depot project is consistent with the City of Northfield’s Comprehensive Plan—preserving historical heritage, addressing blight, providing a community facility, and enhancing the quality of life. He expressed appreciation for being in a community with public-private partnerships that are reflected in the depot project as well as other recent projects of the skateboard park and the library.
Meeting the first fundraising milestone of $228,550 authorized activity for the sale of the City property to Save the Northfield Depot, and the groundbreaking event that will lead to the move of the depot. “There is still much work to be done,” noted Lynn Vincent. Fundraising will continue for necessary repairs after the move and interior renovation of the building in 2015-16. In spring 2017, Save the Northfield Depot will begin raising funds for the pavilion and sculpture garden.
Save the Northfield Depot is also seeking volunteers both before and after the move. Immediate help is needed to remove trees and brush around the depot and on the new site. Rob Martin noted that once the depot is moved and in its possession, volunteers will be needed for completion of the interior, such as plastering, electrical installation, plumbing, and carpentry. Those interested in volunteering should contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-645-7579.
After the groundbreaking, the group enjoyed refreshments and exhibits related to the depot, shared railroad stories and then joined in a mock photo of “lifting” the depot for the move—the next big event for Save the Northfield Depot!