In 2008, the depot was slated be torn down unless it was moved. The railroad agreed to sell it to us for $1 if it were moved off their property, and an agreement with the City of Northfield allowed us to purchase a portion city land for $1.
Saving the depot will:
- Preserve an architectural treasure and the last key symbol of our railroad heritage
- Help revitalize the west side
- Create additional public amenities and gathering places
- Provide a convenient and attractive setting for a visitor’s center
- Complement the proposed transit hub
- Enhance the appearance of a city gateway
The Save the Northfield Depot board of directors believes in the importance of involving the various audiences and stakeholders in decision-making regarding the depot. In addition to conversations with public officials, the board held public meetings on March 1, 2010 (view PDF of feedback) and March 29, 2010 (view PDF of feedback) to obtain public opinion about the potential uses and sites for the depot.
The participants produced an extensive list of issues, opportunities, and preferences for potential uses and sites. The favorite sites were someplace on the Q-block (the area between the railroad tracks on the west and Highway 3 on the east, and 2nd Street on the north and 3rd Street on the south) and one of the city parks. The preferred uses were a combination of visitor’s center, commercial business, and transportation hub.
Focus groups were also held on March 15 with representatives from 15 city and public stakeholder groups, including potential uses, to solicit their ideas about site and use of the depot. The board of directors used this information along with information gathered from other sources to rate the top locations (.pdf) and made a preferred choice for the location: Q-block, as close to the east side of the tracks as possible. The board is assessing the current level of commitment by those who previously expressed an interest in utilizing the depot.
Proposed Design and Uses
Several ideas have been forwarded for a proposed design—all of which depend on the final site and use. Save the Northfield Depot currently uses the 1917 proposed drawing above as its inspiration. It shows the 1888 depot with proposed additions of a pavilion and baggage room.
The 1888 depot (on left in image) will provide:
- information for visitors
- public amenities, such as maps, self-guided tours, and snacks and beverages
- public display of items like local artwork, historical artifacts, schedules, and other items
The transit hub (new construction, on right in image) will provide:
- a pavilion for events, such as weddings, art shows, markets and musical performances
- an open space for sculptures, way-finding signs, bike racks, and bike repair station
- a hub for easy pick-up and drop off by car, taxi, transit van, or bus
- a convenient stopping place for bicyclists between the east and west side of the city
- a bike path on track side with potential trail connections in future