The Mille Lacs County Historical Society has signed a contract with Les Jones Roofing Inc. to begin the renovation of the historical society’s depot center’s badly worn cedar shake roof.
Also included in the state legacy grant for the project is money to repair brick, stone, mortar and flashing on the building’s roof line, along with installation of gutters and downspouts to direct water away from the foundation.
Barry Schreiber, historical society board vice president, said the work is expected to be completed in 60 days. It will ensure the survival of the old Great Northern depot building that was built in 1902, Schreiber added. The Great Northern trains hauled passengers and freight through Princeton, ending its freight service in the 1980s and its passenger service many years prior.
Schreiber noted that Great Northern built only three deluxe brick and stone depots of this style in the United States. A sister depot in Bellingham, Washington, was damaged in a fire in 1926 and then rebuilt in a different style. The third such depot was in Litchfield, Minnesota, and Great Northern abandoned it in the early 1970s. It was not maintained after that and was torn down in 1985.
This could have been the fate of the depot center in Princeton without work by Penny Quast, who recently resigned from the historical society board, and Princeton Community Development Director Carie Fuhrman. Those two worked to get the legacy grant for the roof and other mentioned work.
The historical society also recently received a Minnesota Historical and Cultural and Heritage Grant of $5,800 to evaluate the depot center’s heating and air quality system. Work cannot begin on that until the grant agreements have arrived and authorized by the grants office.
Quast resigned from the historical society board in mid-June after 13 years of volunteer service to the historical society and in recent years was the board president. Quast resigned for health reasons. It means the society board is “presently president-less,” Schreiber said. The board had a business meeting on July 12 but did not elect anyone to fill the vacancy.
Kellie Davidson has been volunteering her time at the depot museum in the absence of Quast.
The project to remodel the inside of a boxcar on the depot museum property into a railroad museum is on hold for now. But the nearby train caboose on the property is ready for rent by groups, such as for children’s birthday parties, Schreiber noted.