History of the Winter Street Depot
For the Winter Street Depot the beginning goes back to July 1, 1908 when Schmidt Bros & Hill was awarded the contract to build a passenger depot, freight depot, store house, round house, cinder pit, turntable and machine shop for the Wisconsin Central Railroad. The plan was for the passenger depot to be located on Winter Street between John and Ogden Avenues, the freight depot across John Avenue in the next block and the shops and round house to be located about one mile south of Belknap Street.
The contract price was just over $95,000.00 (for all the structures) and at that time it was the largest contract undertaken by the local firm. Amazingly, the contract stated the work must be completed in 90 days. It was the plan of the Wisconsin Central Railroad to be running trains in and out of Superior by the first of October. This however did not occur.
The project started on July 1st and was completed December 15th, 1908. A reception was held in late December to welcome the railroad to Superior and to celebrate the new grand depot. City officials, as well as dignitaries from the headquarters of Wisconsin Central in Chicago, participated in this event.
For many of us the Wisconsin Central Depot has always been known as the Soo Line Depot. The Soo Line became involved with the Wisconsin Central in 1909. My research shows that the Soo Line never actually purchased the property from the Wisconsin Central Railway but operated the properties under several agreements, the first of which was dated April 1, 1909. The Soo Line operated the Wisconsin Central as an agent for the trustees of the property.
For many years this vintage treasure served the area as one of the towns busiest travel hubs. For the men and women who traveled the area, and the people who worked for the rails over the years, the depot is a shrine to the "good old days".
Standing on the back platform with eyes closed a person can almost see and hear the old coal fired locomotives chugging to a stop. One can only imagine the excitement as travelers arrived to meet friends and relatives. This process was repeated several times a day for decades until trains were later replaced by planes and automobiles.
Later came the diesel powered locomotives, the cargo changed from people to lumber, iron ore and grain. Still for many years the depot was the office for the crews that worked the rails. However, the railroad mergers and big business changing the way railroads operated caused most of the countries train stations to close.
After sitting vacant for a few years it caught the eye of Jim and Faith DeMeyer. Jim grew up in the area and always had a love for this building. After learning that the depot was up for sale and/or possible demolition, Jim suggested to six of his fellow reps, from the firm he was working for, his idea to purchase the building and lease office space back to the firm. His plan was to convert a portion of the building into a home for him and his family. As it turned out the company Jim worked for did not agree with his plans but that certainly did not deter him from his dream. In October of 1992, Jim, his wife, Faith, along with their two sons moved into the 6,700 square foot building. A building that had no heat, no hot water, no kitchen and no area designated for bedrooms. Their dream was to renovate the depot to its original look of the early 1900's.
Shortly after moving into their new home the DeMeyer family was contacted by Hollywood. There was interest in using the depot for a portion of the filming of the Disney production, "Iron Will", produced by Charles Haid former star of the hit show "Hill Street Blues". The film cast was impressive with Oscar Winner, Kevin Spacey as part of the mix. In 1993 filming began and Hollywood came to Superior, Wisconsin. It was an exciting time for the family and they took away from the experience many fond memories.
Currently, Jim DeMeyer and his three children, Adam (17), Alex (14) and Samantha (11) live in a totally renovated portion of the depot.
After years of hard work and determination one of Jim’s longtime dreams has come true. Jim always wanted to create a special setting for local artists and craftsmen to display and sell their wares. That dream is now reality. Congratulations Jim!
Jim invites you to visit the Winter Street Depot and experience this beautiful historic building in a whole new way. The Depot offers a unique opportunity for people of all ages. Whether you are site seeing or looking for that special gift item, you can find it at the Winter Street Depot. Old fashioned candy, bath and body products, stained glass, specialized pillows, quilts, pottery, woodworking, specialized furniture, metal art, watercolors, photography, handmade soaps and collectibles.
Through the years Jim’s love for this historic building has only grown. His passion is clear and direct, similar to his sparkling personality.
On behalf of the many citizens of Superior who along with myself love these old structures, Thank You Jim DeMeyer! Thank you for your passion for this building. Thank you for all you have endured through the years and through the ups and downs in your life. Your wife, Faith (deceased), would be so proud of your progress along with your many friends and relatives.
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