www.mybaycity.com June 3, 2007
Rotary Article 1635

Early Rotary Support Was Critical to Depot Restoration, Says Curtiss

Pere Marquette Depot Being Re-created in Its Original Victorian Image

June 3, 2007
By: Dave Rogers

Visit RotaryBayCity.org, web site of the Rotary Club of Bay City, Michigan


  • Bring a friend to Rotary. For prospective new members we have a supply of the "Rotary Basics" brochures that explain the organization very well.

  • The Golf Outing is June 4. 23 teams have signed up, which is one more than last year. This is the club's SECOND LARGEST fund raiser after International Night. Visit www.RotaryBayCity.org for full information and an e-mail link to the Golf committee chair.

  • Rob Monroe is still looking for a family to house Mariana, our 18 year old inbound exchange student from Mexico. Housing is needed from Christmas to Easter. Mariana will be attending Bay City Central High.

  • Dues Increase: In response to a dues increase by Rotary International, the board approved a club dues increase of $1 (one dollar) for each six month cycle over the next three years.

  • Breezes Reporters Wanted: If you'd like to help write the weekly Breezes please see Steve Kent. It's an easy job. No experience necessary. High Pay (well at least a lot of thanks).

  • The Pinconning Club meets every Thursday at noon - Third Street Deli.


    • The Big Board will be at every meeting until International Night. There are jobs for everyone and everyone's name is on the board. Sign up soon.
      • Setup and Take down
      • Auction Item Solicitor
      • Greeters and Ticket Takers
      • Beer and Wine Tasting (bartender, not taster!)
      • Auction Check Out
      • Bucket of Fun ticket sales

    • The club welcomed Luicz Ben-Hur Loures from Brasil. A member of the 2001 GSE team, Luicz brought the family to the US to visit his son Gilly, a Rotary exchange student in Chicago. Luicz made a side trip to bring the entire family to Bay City to show them where he had visited with the GSE program. Mike Stoner introduced the family and also reminded everyone of the ill fated first ice skating adventure where Luicz fell and knocked out his two front teeth. And he still wanted to come back!

      A committee is being formed to evaluate the idea of budgeting funds for emergency grant request and for disaster relief. When tornados or huricanes or other disasters strike the club has the urge to send relief funds. Unfortunately the budget doesn't always allow that. This committee will address that need.

      Best wishes to Bill Findlay who is retiring from the ministry and moving to Ann Arbor. Bill, you'll be missed. But in the words of our sargent at arms "But Dude, ANN ARBOR?".

      The Club's Community Grants committee has established the policy to have representatives from the groups who receive funds come to a meeting and tell about how those funds are being used. Kathy Rainer from the Literacy Council of Bay County and Roger Nugent of Bay Sail came to this meeting to describe the work of their groups and how the recent Rotary grants will help.

      Upcoming Programs (See the official schedule at RotaryBayCity.org)

    • June 6 Real estate fraud increase and how to protect your interests

    • June 12 Rotary Foundation

    • June 19 How is our Social Security Program? What changes are coming to the Act? Will we have funds in it when we retire?

      Last Weeks program - May 29, 2007: Early Rotary Support Was Critical to Depot Restoration, Says Curtiss

      Photos by Andy Rogers
      At one time 11 sets of railroad tracks served the Pere Marquette Union Station Depot and warehouses in downtown Bay City.

      Four sets of tracks were for through trains in the days when twice daily passenger runs were made from Bay City to Alpena.

      A 66-foot, seven story high tower distinguished the prairie-style depot, topped with a red tile roof, from surrounding buildings of those days like the venerable Imperial Hotel, the YWCA that housed dozens of working girls from the region and the old Boutell mansion that later became the county juvenile home.

      Partly because of the aid of the Rotary Club of Bay City, a year from now the depot will be reborn in its Victorian Age splendor, Charles Curtiss, of the Great Lakes Center Foundation, told Bay City Rotarians last Tuesday.

      Programmer Jerome Yantz introduced Mr. Curtiss as "the person most responsible for the depot project." A longtime community development activist, Mr. Curtiss was an original board member of Saginaw Valley State University 32 years ago and was chairman of the board for eight years. The Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Torch Club, Water Resources Task Group, Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy and Bay Area Community Foundation have been among his other volunteer passions. His occupation was stockbroker.

      An early funding commitment from Rotary was crucial to obtaining grants from local foundations and other sources, he said. Rotary provided $150,000 for site development that got the project rolling, according to Mr. Curtiss.

      When the building reopens in the spring of 2008 it will be garnished with 74 trees, day lilies, and decorative fencing in an attractive park-like setting.

      Walkers from downtown will access the depot area under an arch spanning a tree and flower lined brick walkway.

      A historic Rotary kiosk will grace the grounds of a mini park, part of an estimated $1 million landscaping scheme.

      Perhaps the old Mile Marker 0 of the Detroit and Mackinac Railroad will be found and re-installed or replicated.

      Motorcoaches will pull up to the old depot and scores of eager visitors will enter a welcome center with catering kitchen for receptions. The waiting room will be open 12 hours a day if volunteers are available.

      An ornate porte cochere will be re-created on the Boutell Place side of the building, just as it was when horse-drawn baggage wagons unloaded their freight to be loaded on trains taking summer vacationers to northern resorts.

      Tourists drawn here to relive the past will hear of lumbering days when trains loaded with carousing timber fellers hit town, bound from West Branch, Harrison, Grayling and points North, looking for what came in corsets and brown bottles.

      The heart of the community's promotional and philanthropic efforts will be located in the depot since it will house offices of the Bay Area Community Foundation and Bay Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

      "This adaptive reuse project should be reasonably good for thirty years," said Mr. Curtiss. According to guidelines required under state and federal historic designations, the building must use materials and have the look it had when built in 1904.

      These requirements drove the cost to about $6 million, or about $375 a square foot, much more than a similar new building would cost.


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