Usually trains move while train depots remain stationary. That’s not going to be the case in Clare, Michigan on April 15, 2014, when the 119-year old Clare Railroad Depot is scheduled to move to its new home on Fourth Street across from the Clare Castle in the City of Clare which is approximately 900 feet to the east of its current location.
Why all the effort? Because this place matters! The building is of Queen Anne style with two separate wings and is the only one of its kind remaining in Michigan and one of few left in the nation. The depot was the focal point for arrivals and departures until the advent of the automobile. It was the coming of the railroad that allowed access to the interior of the state for lumberjacks, farmers, and businessmen to set up shop and make it their home, creating cities, towns and villages including the City of Clare. Since 2005, the Clare Railroad Depot Committee has sought to move the building because of access, liability and safety issues associated with its current location between two active rail-lines.
The 50 plus member Clare Railroad Depot Steering Committee (CRDSC) have raised more than $200,000 to date to move the depot to its new location. The CRDSC is comprised of representatives of the Clare County Arts Council, a local railroad aficionado group, the Clare Area Chamber of Commerce, Clare Main Street, MidMichigan Community Action Agency, Michigan Department of Transportation, Middle Michigan Development Corporation, the City of Clare, and a significant number of local community members who are passionate about preserving this building and an important part of Clare’s history. The Committee meets once monthly and welcomes new members and volunteers. The Committee’s primary goal is to raise funds to ensure the move and rehabilitation of the depot becomes a reality.
Work for the move is scheduled to begin in mid-March. Prep work at the new location includes digging a full basement and pouring a concrete floor. The depot must also be readied for the move. This work includes removal of the interior structure to the studs; disconnecting utilities; cutting the building free of its present concrete foundation (that was poured after the building was constructed); raising the building and putting a floor system under it; and putting large steel cross beams every few feet under the new floor to support the building as it is moved.
This move is just the first step in what is still a multi-year project that will require at least an additional 500k in funding before the building is completely rehabilitated to become a community resource that will include offices, a meeting room, a museum, the welcome center for the Pere Marquette rail trail, and home to the Clare Area Chamber of Commerce, Clare County Convention & Visitors Bureau and Clare County Arts Council.
The move is an exciting first step in the rehabilitation of the depot and evidence that the efforts of all those who have supported the project thus far have not been in vain. We invite everyone to come to Clare in April to experience an opportunity to see a railroad depot in motion. After all, an opportunity like this comes around only once every 119 years!
J. Jonassen, Inc. Structural Movers, 2966 Farr Road, Fruitport, MI 49415, 231-865-8121 office, 231-865-8122 fax, have been contracted to move this building. The move itself should prove to be quite interesting to watch and we encourage the public to come view this event. See attached photo map depicting where it’s moving from and to.
Watch our Facebook page and website http://www.claredepot.com/ for further updates.
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