Progress Update, July 2020

We are taking this opportunity to update you on the progress since our last update in October 2019. Activity continued through the winter and spring on the building and the grounds. As we come near the finish line and admire the results of the efforts of so many, we reflect on the “village” engagement the project has involved. We are so very grateful to those who have contributed their time, energy and funding to achieve this attractive, welcoming asset for our community.

In this report we are providing the progress and what has yet to be accomplished (see lists below). To see how far we’ve come, view our PDF that documents where we started and where we are now.

Thank you to all who have so generously supported the project. We are contemplating what a social distancing completion celebration this fall might look like; suggestions are welcome. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this update.

Interior progress

  • Installed and painted baseboard.
  • Applied finish to new maple stairway to basement
  • Applied finish to interior side of four exterior doors.
  • Installed grab bars and toilet paper holder in bathroom
  • Installed window pulls
  • Finished ceiling of station master bay
  • Reinstalled ticket window grating
  • Replaced broken bay window
North wall, fall 2019: Volunteers painted the baseboards and plinths, completing the interior painting. (The flooring is currently covered with protective paper.)
West wall, 2020: Interior side of all exterior doors were finished to match flooring.
Stairway, 2020: Volunteers sanded, filled holes, and applied several layers of polyurethane to the new stairs. The treads were stained a darker color to match the new flooring
Bathroom, 2020: Grab bars and toilet paper holder were installed.
South wall ticket window, 2020: A volunteer cleaned the ticket window grate and then used a finish to secure the original dark green paint onto it. The grating was then reinstalled.

Yet to be completed:

  • Enclose interior stairway and ceiling in basement as required by fire code.

Exterior progress

  • Installation of paver platform
  • Installation of sidewalks
  • Concrete bases for two benches (one donated and one is being repaired) located near the station master bay have been poured; archival photos show two exterior benches on the track side
West side, 2020: Added sidewalk and paver platform. Over 1,700 Purlington pavers (originally from a Minnesota depot) were donated by a new cabin owner near Mankato who wanted a different surface at his cabin. Purlington pavers (9 lbs. each) were used worldwide; U.S. soldiers recognized them on the streets of Paris in WWII.

Yet to be completed:

  • Installation of order board: See 2017 annual report for photo and details.
  • Railings: On the steps of the two track side exterior doors and on the steps of the exterior stairs to the basement.
  • Safety fence and sidewalk: Addition to track side extending from 2nd Street to 3rd Street for safety of those visiting the depot, attending events, and using the transit hub.
  • Add Purlington pavers under roof on east side.
  • Add the donated baggage cart (see photo below) under east side roof

Sculpture garden progress

  • Landscaping: Trees, bushes and plantings are in place.
  • Sodding: Sodding was recently completed on the south side of the depot.
Sculpture garden, fall 2019: The pavers were installed in the plaza and surrounding area graded.
Sculpture garden, 2020: Plants, shrubs, trees, mulch, sod, and sidewalks have been added.

Yet to be completed:

  • Install water feature elements.
  • Install bollards.

City transit hub progress

  • Driveway and parking: The City has actively sought support for the inclusion of the Northfield Regional Transit Hub in the state bonding bill. As part of their preparation of their request for the building of the transit hub, the City constructed the driveway between 2nd and 3rd streets and included parking at both ends.
  • Temporary ramp: A temporary, handicapped accessible ramp was added to the partial plaza at the handicapped accessible double doorway entrance at the north end of the depot. A permanent ramp will be included on the track side of the future pavilion and transit hub.
North side, 2020: The City of Northfield installed steps and segment of the pavilion floor that is the termination point for the handicapped accessible ramp and connects to the depot.
East side, 2020: The City installed the driveway that provides access to the Transit Hub and the depot.


At this point in the project, we had intended to make the final fundraising push and had started that effort just as COVID-19 changed everyone’s plans. The Board recognized the need to keep moving toward the completion of the project this summer and decided to do so by borrowing rather than competing with the critical funding for social needs, which we felt was inappropriate.

Future use of the depot

At the community depot planning meetings and focus groups held in 2010, the public indicated that it wanted the depot to serve as a multi-use, public resource that included:

  • the depot (visitor information, public amenities, events venue, displays of railroad history and works of local artists)
  • an open pavilion for concerts, art shows, weddings
  • space for sculptures, way-finding signs, bike racks, and a bike repair station
  • a Transit Hub (city project: a multi-modal, regional transit facility)

Save the Northfield Depot remains committed to the eventual public use of the building. Given the current uncertain situation for potential user groups with their other immediate concerns and inability to make commitments along with the unknown outcome for the City’s state’s bonding bill that would support the City’s Transit Hub, the specific combination of public uses is uncertain at this time.

%d bloggers like this: