No, Marie Hartmann isn’t really loading coal into that potbellied stove. She’s just demonstrating how a station agent of yesteryear kept warm while working at the Milwaukee Road Depot. The depot was built in 1887, one year after St. Louis Park became a village, and was originally situated right on the tracks at 36th Street and Alabama Avenue.
The Milwaukee Railroad was one of four major railroads that crisscrossed the Park (making street travel from one end to the other more than a little difficult). In fact, our village was named after the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad—which didn’t quite make it to the real St. Louis. The road’s owners persuaded our little collection of neighborhoods to be the substitute.
Milwaukee Road trains carried St. Louis Park passengers until 1955, and freight until the depot closed in 1968. When the railroad threatened to tear the building down, Hartmann headed a “Save the Depot” committee, which preserved the building and got it listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 25, 1969. The Milwaukee Road donated the building to the city, and, with the help of a federal grant, the committee was able to move the depot to Jorvig Park in August 1970. The city has generously allowed the St. Louis Park Historical Society to use it ever since. Now, if it only had bathrooms!
Jeanne Andersen is a trustee on the board of the St. Louis Park Historical Society.
Learn more about the history of St. Louis Park at slphistory.org.