Depot doors recall the past

People can now see the period freight doors on the Mille Lacs County Historic Depot Museum that were installed during late October and lead into the Great Northern event room, which has been undergoing improvements. Pictured is MLC Historical Society President Barry Schreiber showing the interior finish of the doors.
People can now see the period freight doors on the Mille Lacs County Historic Depot Museum that were installed during late October and lead into the Great Northern event room, which has been undergoing improvements. Pictured is MLC Historical Society President Barry Schreiber showing the interior finish of the doors.

New freight-style doors on the south end of the Mille Lacs County Historic Depot Museum on  10th Avenue have the 1902 structure looking more like it did originally with the Oct. 21 installation of the big, heavy, custom-made, cedar doors that open into the Great Northern Room.
Mille Lacs County Historical Society President Barry Schreiber said the new doors are historically accurate and created by Ron A. Euteneuer with Great Northern Environmental Solutions out of Waite Park.
Each of the two doors swing open to the outside and weigh 400 pounds; each one measures 4 feet wide by about 8 feet tall. Euteneuer said the job involved quite a bit of jiggling and adjusting to make sure the new doors are exactly right, because the old building “isn’t exactly plumb.”
Euteneuer estimates the doors required about 100 hours of labor and said the majority of time was spent treating the wood so the door would be properly protected and take on the right look. The craftsman also created a new door frame and transom windows that contain argon gas to help form a better seal against exterior weather. Each door has a metal kick plate at the bottom, which Euteneuer treated with a metallic-bronze finish.
During the renovation work, crews exposed a brick arch at the top of the door that will be accented with light. As workers – mostly Euteneuer, Schreiber and a good friend and neighbor of his – removed drywall just inside the old door, they discovered a drawing on the wall – what seems to be a man wearing a hat – that is dated 11/14. Schreiber and the other historians suspect the drawing remains from the building’s original construction, so it will be preserved and displayed as the depot improvements progress.
“This is one of the mysteries that’s been revealed,” he said about the improvement work.
Right inside the depot door is a small space next to utility fixtures that will enable the depot to create a functioning ticket window that opens to the outside. Schreiber said two old, big and long newspaper signs will be mounted on walls opposite each other in the Great Northern Room. One is for the Princeton Union and the other for the Princeton Eagle.
The work is all part of an overall effort to spruce up the look of the Great Northern Room, which people rent to host events.
In June, Ken Amdall and his son John Amdall spent Ken’s 90th birthday in Princeton to present a check to the historical society for $30,000. Ken and his late wife Betty (Umbehocker) Amdall are Princeton natives but had moved away in their younger years.
After her death, the family looked for a meaningful way to memorialize her and then a shared love of history drew their attention to the local depot.
Schreiber said it is the oldest remaining building in Princeton and the last railroad depot of its style in the United States.
The Amdall family liked the idea of a gift that could not only enhance the depot but help sustain the society and building maintenance into the future. Schreiber said the Amdalls’ gift is more than the society’s annual operating budget and that the event room has needed improvements for a while.
Along with the new doors and entrance features, the Great Northern Room will get new carpet, paint, lights and some presentation technology and equipment. The completed space will seat about 120 people comfortably.