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June 16 Ribbon-Cutting Slated for Depot; Funds Still Needed for Landscaping

Interior of Classic 104-Year-Old Structure Complete, Says Curtiss

April 25, 2008       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Pere Marquette Union Station stands gleaming with renovations taking the onlooker back over 100 years.
 
Ornate stone decorations in the clock tower are reproductions of the century old decorations, as is the tower itself.

Ribbon cutting for the opening of the sparkling, historically-correct, prairie-style Pere Marquette Union Station Depot downtown is tentatively set for June 16.

No, puffing passenger trains won't be arriving dozens of times daily as they did in 1904 when the building was built, but local officials are hopeful the building will provide the spark to a nascent tourism business ala Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia and other places where visitors flock.

>"I hear that whistle blowin' . . . "<br>
Charles Curtiss, president of the Great Lakes Center Foundation, sponsor of the $6.3 million renovation project, said an estimated additional $200,000 needs to be raised to complete landscaping and other site work.

The Rotary Club of Bay City has committed to paying $150,000 of the cost of site work as its major project, funded through events such as International Night held each October.

"We have enough to finish the building and we are on budget, but we under budgeted for landscaping," said Mr. Curtiss. "We have made some applications to foundations and we will likely have a fund-raising event in September.

Serious consideration is being given to selling bricks," he said, an idea the Bay Area Community Foundation, one of the tenants in waiting, is working on. Donors pay a set amount for bricks that are engraved with their name or other memorial and are placed around the building, a fund-raising device used at the Bay County Civic Arena, the Bay County Historical Museum and for other project.


The depot appears in near readiness, with sparkling copper piping and trim outside as well as ornate stone pillars inside the clock tower. "The stonework was there originally and they have been reproduced as closely as possible," said Mr. Curtiss.

Plantings and sidewalks will be incomplete for the ribbon-cutting but a top coat will be on the parking lot "so we will have a decent entrance to the building," he added.

Long range plans are for a $1 million endowment to guarantee availability of funds to run the building, according to Mr. Curtiss. The tenants will be paying rent but the revenue will not be enough to pay all operating costs.

The other tenant is the Bay Area Convention and Visitors Bureau that will be using the depot as a staging area for local tours as well as a tourism information center. A network of driveways and extensive parking for buses and other vehicles is already installed on the site. Historic project grants and tax credits that helped to fund the building specified that the original plans be followed as precisely as possible. General contractor was Gregory Construction and foreman on the job was Aubrey Woods.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at carraroe@aol.com)

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