Thief River Falls City Hall

The old Soo Line Depot currently houses the City Administrative Offices.

A Symbol of a Thriving Railroad Town

Designed by architects William Kenyon and Maurice Maine, this architecturally eclectic depot was built in 1914. Constructed as a symbol of success for the Soo Line, the depot fell into disuse as rail traffic slowed following the Great Depression and shipping was increasingly made by

The vaulted former waiting room is now used as a building lobby, service counter, and office space.

truck. The train dispatcher’s office in Thief River Falls was closed in 1961, following the Soo Line’s consolidation with Canadian Pacific Rail, negating the depot’s original purpose.

Save the Depot Campaign

The depot housed the local Chamber of Commerce for nearly twenty years, from the 1970s into the early ‘90s. When the steam boiler stopped functioning and the Chamber moved its offices, the building was vacated and the future of this landmark structure was uncertain. In 1993, faced with the finality of demolition, the City Council appointed a Depot Preservation Committee.

Original details, including ceiling trusses, pressed brick, and historic signs, are present throughout the building.

Upon completion of architectural, engineering, and environmental studies, the City negotiated acquisition of the property from Canadian Pacific. A “Save the Depot” fundraising campaign was launched in 1994, which raised over $528,000 in donations and grants by the spring of 1995.  The Thief River Falls City Council, faced with maintenance issues at its aging but non-historic municipal building, agreed to renovate the depot for use as the city’s new administrative offices.

A compatible, one-story addition to the north side of the building holds the new Council Chambers.

Project Details

Architect: Michael J. Burns Architecture, Moorhead

Project Costs:

$1.7 million

Funding Sources:

Donations: $328,000

Interest Income: $62,000

MnDOT ISTEA Grant: $120,000

MHS ISTEA Matching Grant: $80,000

City of Thief River Falls (15-yr option to purchase agreement lease): balance

For Further Information

The History, Preservation & Restoration of the Soo Line Railroad Depot in Thief River Falls, Pennington County, Minnesota,” by Donald L. Stewart in: The Soo Line Historical and Technical Society, Summer 2003 Issue

Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Depot (Soo Line Depot)” in: Minnesota Treasures: Stories Behind the State’s Historic Places by Denis P. Gardner

Michael J. Burns Architecture

Comments Closed