End-of-year Progress Update

As we wrap up the year, Save the Northfield Depot would like to extend our deepest appreciation to everyone who has contributed their time, money, and skills. Thank you!

Tours of Depot Available During Winter Walk on December 7

During Winter Walk on Thursday, December 7, we will offer tours of the depot. Visitors will see some of the restoration that is currently in progress along with before and after examples This is an opportunity for those contributing to the project to see first-hand how their donations have been used.

Tours will be scheduled every 20 minutes between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; groups are limited to five people at $5 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by contacting Sue at 507-645-0939 or depotvolunteers@gmail.com.

Renovation Progress

The highly visible exterior renovation is only a portion of all the work completed during the summer and fall on the 1888 depot. The work has been accomplished by contractors and by very able volunteers — a true community effort on this historical renovation project. With their time, money, and in-kind donations, the community has supported the completion of the following exterior and interior work.


  • New roof and new chimney using the original brick pattern
  • Volunteer hand-crafted bracket replacements using the original design (see details below)
  • Brick and stone work using salvage from the original site
  • Station master’s bay rebuilt in its original location using the 1888 plans
  • New windows throughout and new steps on the track side
  • Most exterior paint removed and repainted by volunteers
Chimney: Bricks were sawed to obtain 3 different thicknesses to achieve the 1888 pattern; a total of 350 recycled bricks were used. Once the chimney was completed, new shingles could be added.
New Shingles: Spots on the roof were repaired before adding new shingles (donated by SageGlass/Saint-Gobain and their CertainTeed Roofing company). After shingling, interior work (e.g., insulation and drywall) could continue without threat of water damage.


  • Ceiling returned to its original height and drywall added where needed
  • Original V-board walls under plaster exposed and repaired where needed
  • Temporary stairs to basement
  • Electrical work (partial)
  • Plumbing (partial)
Walls & Ceiling: After insulation, new ceiling was installed. Volunteers replaced original wall boards; high school volunteers enrolled in the Service Learning class are filling nail holes.

Crafting of the Brackets

A distinctive exterior feature of the depot is the design of the large, attractive brackets supporting the eight-foot-wide eaves. While they are structural, they are also decorative. Ten new brackets were needed to replace those removed in 1944 when south end of the depot was opened up to the freight house addition. Observers may have noticed that some new brackets have already been added to the south wall.

New Brackets: Timbers were dried over winter and planed in a commercial workshop. Pieces are crafted in basements of volunteers and assembled in the depot basement. After painted the brackets are mounted onto the depot wall. All work is done by volunteers.

Crafting the brackets has been a long process requiring a high level of skill. We purchased timbers wholesale in Wisconsin and dried them for a year in a local warehouse. Last spring, volunteers planed the timbers in a local commercial workshop in preparation for the time-intensive detailed work.

The volunteers, retired engineers, made a template based on the existing brackets to craft the new brackets. The three separate bracket pieces are crafted off-site in the volunteers’ basements and assembled in the large space in the depot basement. After they are painted, the brackets are installed by a crew of volunteers. One of the new brackets will be on display in the basement during the Winter Walk tours.

We contacted the Milwaukee Road Museum several years ago to ask if their archives included the plans or a template for the original 1888 depot brackets and were told that the plans no longer existed and that the originals would have been completed by local craftsmen — as are the 2017 replacements!

End-of-year Fund Drive

Although significant progress has been made, a number of components remain that require additional funding. An end-of-year fund drive is currently underway to support the remaining major renovation tasks with projected costs below.

Exterior Items:

  • Doors with transoms (2 single, 1 double; $12,750)
  • Security lighting ($3,500)
  • Gas service main line extension & installation ($3,074)
  • Grading, soil amendment ($6,000)
  • Sculpture garden patio & stone seating ($12,000)
  • Sculpture garden sculpture bases (2 @ $500 each)
  • Landscaping ($22,000)
  • Wrought iron fence (between depot and tracks; $15,000)

Interior Items:

  • Stairs (treads, railing, balusters & newel posts; $2,800)
  • Bathroom plumbing ($7,000)
  • Bathroom tile & labor ($2,600)
  • Handicapped bathroom door & labor ($660)
  • Woodwork (window & door casing, crown molding, baseboard & wainscoting trim; $2,270)
  • Maple flooring & labor ($10,000)
  • Interior light fixtures ($1,200)
  • HVAC (furnace, venting, AC; $13,800)

The above will be completed as funds become available. Checks can be mailed to Save the Northfield Depot, 712 4th St. E, Northfield, MN 55057; checks assure that the project receives the FULL donation since there is no processing fee. The “Donate Now” button on our home page can be used for a credit or debit card.

Our website also includes information about the project, an order form for personalized engraved pavers for the sculpture garden, and links to images of the interior and exterior renovation progress that are posted frequently on Facebook. (For future photo progress updates, please follow us on Facebook.)

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