The St. Louis Park Historical Society was founded in
April 1971 by Marie Hartmann, a lifelong citizen of the
Park. Its stated purpose was "the discovery, preservation,
and dissemination of knowledge about the history of St.
Louis Park, Minnesota." Marie was a dedicated and persistent
collector of information, documents, and memorabilia that
documented the history of the City. She led the Historical
Society until her death in 1996. One
of Marie's greatest achievements was saving the Milwaukee
Road Depot from demolition.
Built in 1887, the Depot of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and
Pacific Railroad (a/k/a Milwaukee Road) was originally
located just south of the tracks, at 36th Street and Alabama
Avenue. It is said to be in the
Eastlake style, named for Charles Lock Eastlake, an English
architect and designer of furniture. Characteristics of
Eastlake style are thin columns, exposed structural members,
exterior surfaces are in panels, jigsaw and lathework as
decorative details and ornamentation on gables porch posts
etc. The original colors were chocolate brown with
green door frames.
Milwaukee Road Depot, 1920s or '30s: Postcard from
Frank Heyda. The children may be those of Gar Case.
By 1893 the Milwaukee Road provided two trains a day into
Minneapolis with two return runs.
It is believed that the original roof was cedar shingle.
It was replaced with asphalt in 1954.
John A. "Jack" Felber was the depot agent for the Chicago,
Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific (Milwaukee Road) from
February 25, 1925 to 1966. His wife Flora supplemented
his income (they had seven children) by working as a
seamstress in a department store in 1930. The photo below is of Felber and Clerk Edith Rue, as published in the
Minneapolis Star on February 1, 1955. The photo
provides a look at the inside of the depot when it was in
use, including the original potbellied stove.
During the 1920s the depot was painted
bright yellow with orange trim.
An SLP Sun article dated April 23, 1970, claims that in 1925
the Depot was painted a brilliant yellow with organige trim
to signify that it was part of the
Yellowstone Trail from Chicago to Seattle [although we think
the Yellowstone Trail was just for cars; see Automotive
The train carried passengers until
1955. Freight included farm products, scrap materials during
war years, coal, and even caps and gowns for Park High
Doug Johnson has written a
detailed description of the function of the depot and
Depot from behind, still on the tracks 1968
When the railroad discontinued freight service and closed
the Depot in 1968 it threatened to tear the building down.
Marie Hartmann headed a "Save the Depot" committee that got
the building on the National Register of Historic Places on
November 25, 1969. The Milwaukee Road donated the building
to the City, and with the help of a Federal grant, the
committee was instrumental in getting the depot moved to
Jorvig Park in August 1970. Its new address is 6210 W. 37th
Street. The building was given an emergency coat of paint in
The only furnishing in the relocated depot was an oil can.
Marie and her group were successful in obtaining many
artifacts, often from the Milwaukee Road. The potbellied
stove was shipped in by the railroad from Denver.
On May 23 and 24, 1971, a crew of 28 off-duty firemen and
policemen gave the depot a new coat of paint.
The nascent Historical Society hosted a grand opening of the
building on June 17, 1971.
The building became the first Park property on the Register
of National Historic Places, and is used exclusively by the
St. Louis Park Historical Society. Artist Don Skoro and his
family restored the depot's signs. Skoro also sketched the
depot, and that sketch became the symbol of the Historical
Society, prominent on stationery, membership card, the
Re-Echo, and this web site.
In 1972, the Historical Society wanted a real railroad car
installed on the property, but it was deemed infeasible.
In June 1973, volunteers from the police and fire
departments repainted the depot.
Postcards from 1976 still available for sale
In 1991, the Historical Society planted a Colorado spruce in
the park in memory of Veterans.
In 1998 the depot received another coat of paint. To show it
off, the Historical Society held an open house on Saturday,
October 24, 1998.
In 2008, the Depot was repainted on two sides.
A memoir about the Milwaukee Road Depot written by the
daughter of Depot Agent Jack Felber is available in
Something in the Water.
After Marie's death in 1996, the Historical Society had to
regroup and the collection was moved to various locations
until it was returned to the Depot. A new board was formed,
and since then the Society has worked to care for and
catalog the documents and pictures in the collection. Great
strides were made in 2004 when the group rented space from
Lenox Community Center and purchased new furniture in which
to keep much of the collection. Materials pertaining
strictly to the railroad, as well as other oversized or
fragile materials, are retained at the Depot.
In 2011, the City replaced the furnace, installed air
conditioning, replaced rotted interior boards, installed a
ceiling in the baggage room, and made one of the sliding
baggage doors functional. The building continues to be
owned by the City and used exclusively by the St. Louis Park
Historical Society. The Society opens the Depot to the
public from June to mid-September on Saturdays from 1-4 pm.
There is no running water in the building, and most of it is