Rotary Holds Meeting, Tour at Restored Victorian-Era Pere Marquette Depot
Charles Curtiss Explains How Pigeon Haven Became Community Focal Point
May 19, 2009
Last Weeks Meeting - May 19, 2009
By: Dave Rogers
Pere Marquette Depot
On May 19 the club met at the Pere Marquette Depot, a restored 1904 gem that once was the hub of 11 railroad tracks serving a bustling Bay City.
It was another in the occasional off-site meetings the club holds each year.
Rotarians marveled at the soaring ceiling, new marble appointments and ornate woodwork in the main passenger room, now used for meetings, weddings and receptions.
The $6.2 million restoration, completed in 11 months with an array of federal and state grants and tax increment financing, was difficult because of the need to adhere to exacting National Park Service historical standards, explained Charles Curtiss, project manager for the Great Lakes Center Foundation (GLCF).
"For 38 years the depot was vacant and became a home for pigeons, making it a chore to clean up," exclaimed Mr. Curtiss, waving his hand at the expansive interior.
The prairie-style stone structure, designed by architect William Cooper of Saginaw, took on new life by virtue of the dedication of dozens of community leaders.
Cleaned up, rebuilt, painted up and shined up, the depot is now home to the Bay Area Community Foundation (BACF) and the Bay Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).
BACF had been restricted to a few rooms on the third floor of the Citizens Bank building at Washington and Sixth while the CVB shared tight quarters with the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, the Bay County Board of Realtors and Bay Future, Inc., at Commerce One, Saginaw and Fifth.
"It was given to the Great Lakes Center Foundation to make it happen and many times it was a dead issue because of financing," said Jerome Yantz, a former governor of Rotary District 6310. "But the foundation persevered and BACF moved in June 16, 2008," he added.
The CVB has a management agreement with the foundation to develop the depot into a visitor center. "The Bay City Welcome Center will be open seven days and a full-time manager will be responsible for renting it out," said Shirley Roberts, CVB director. The main meeting room includes a fully-outfitted gift shop and may fill the function of a "ticket-master" at some point, she said.
"This is exactly what should be done with so many of our historic structures," she said, concluding: "It is truly a miracle that the building is standing today and we are able to enjoy it." ###
Rotarians Tour Depot
CLUB NEWS and ANNOUNCEMENTS
The Bijou Orchestra will be providing music for the big Fourth of July Fireworks show. They will be accompanied by a ROTARY CHOIR singing patriotic songs. Anyone who can carry a tune (even if you need a bucket) is encouraged to join in. Contact Leo Najar.
DATES TO REMEMBER
Golf Outing: Tim Holsworth reminds everyone that the golf outing, scheduled for June 1, 2009 at the Bay City Country Club, is right around the corner.. Covenant Health Care has signed on as the title sponsor. Bay Health has signed on as the cart sponsor.
International Night 2009 has been scheduled for October 15. The theme will be a Mediterranean Cruise.
(See the official schedule at
Arial Trahan will speak about her recent trip to Guatamala, where Rotary is currently sponsoring an international project.
Chuck Brooks will update the club on the strategic plan.
Historic Pine Ridge Cemetery
Dave Rogers from The Friends of Pine Ridge will speak on what research has uncovered about this historic treasure.