Staples Historical Society kicks off fund drive

Members of the Staples Historical Society gathered at the Northern Pacific depot to take part in the kickoff of their $25,000 fundraising effort. Pictured are (from left): Bob Mueller, representing the Staples Host Lions who made the initial donation to the drive; and SHS board members Mike Blessing, Bruce Hayenga, Tom Crawford, Ken Klose, Tom Kajer and Bernie St. Pierre after placing a fundraising thermometer just outside the depot.

Members of the Staples Historical Society gathered at the Northern Pacific depot to take part in the kickoff of their $25,000 fundraising effort. Pictured are (from left): Bob Mueller, representing the Staples Host Lions who made the initial donation to the drive; and SHS board members Mike Blessing, Bruce Hayenga, Tom Crawford, Ken Klose, Tom Kajer and Bernie St. Pierre after placing a fundraising thermometer just outside the depot.

Members of the Staples Historical Society (SHS)kicked off a fundraising drive aimed at increasing the total amount of funds available for their depot renovation project. They are planning to raise $25,000 from a local fund drive.

Tom Kajer, SHS president, said it has become apparent that even with their current $500,000 available for the project, that won’t be enough. “As we’ve worked with our architects over the past 12 months, their cost estimates have put our project at over $1 million. They are currently working on cutting back on the project scope. In that process, many of the things we really want are going to either be dropped completely or will be bid as alternates. They will only be part of the project if we have the money.”

One of the parts of the project on the “bubble” is an elevator that will provide handicapped access to the depot’s second floor. Another is the planned renovation of two second floor rooms for the historical society’s museum and reference areas.

The SHS, Kajer said, is determined to do the project with full handicapped access. Installing the elevator and remodeling of the second floor areas will likely have to be bid as alternates.

The SHS is taking several steps to increase the funds available for the depot project, in addition to the fund drive. The local historical society will be applying for additional grant funding through the Minnesota Historical Society Legacy Grants program and plan to reach out to other foundations or organizations that award fundings for historical projects.

A fundraising thermometer has been placed next to the depot to gauge the progress of the fund drive, which is planned for the next several months. Already, a $2,500 contribution from the Staples Host Lions Club has gotten the fund drive off to a great start.

Tom Crawford, SHS vice president, said the SHS is a 501-(C)-3 nonprofit and all donations are tax deductible. Donations may be sent to the Staples Historical Society, Box 44, Staples, MN. 56479.

“Raising this amount of money in the Staples Motley area is a formidable task,” Crawford said. “We are hoping that former residents, graduates of local high schools and descendants of railroad workers will want to contribute generously. The depot, when major renovation work is finished, will be a permanent tribute to all the railroad employees who worked here or who passed through Staples.

“Too many locations over the years have seen their railroad depots demolished to make room for less historic buildings,” Crawford said. “We are determined to save this fine building, to reuse it and at the same time preserve the depot for future generations.

The Staples Historical Society acquired the depot from Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroad in 2008. Although vacant for a number of years, the depot has always served as an Amtrak station, with two trains (east and west-bound) stopping in Staples every day. It is the only Amtrak station serving the northeastern Minnesota area.

Since 2008, the SHS has overseen the replacement of the building’s roof, replaced and repaired all the windows on the building’s lower level, installed oak doors in the lobby and renovated the former telegrapher’s office for use as the Staples and Motley Area Chamber of Commerce office. Both the chamber and Amtrak are paying tenants of the building.

The planned depot remodeling project will include new electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems. The new construction will also include installation of a second stairway to serve the second floor, installation of an air conditioning system and accessing the existing stairway from the building’s lobby. Current cost estimates call for this infrastructure work to take up all or most of the $500,000 available from local and federal funds.

The SHS has been working for the past year with the architectural firm of Collaborative Design Group on plans for the building’s renovation. Final plans are expected to be ready this fall, with work under way in early 2014.

 

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