~ THE PAST ~
The original depot was built on the southwest corner of what is now M-61 and U.S. 23,
also known as M-13, in Standish. It was a wooden, most likely white pine, structure built
in conjunction with the new railroad that had been authorized. This was in 1871 and lasted
until the latter part of 1887 when deterioration became a major problem.
In 1887, the Michigan Central Railroad informed the citizens of our village that it
would build a new depot on one condition. If local farmers would haul in large stones for
the material, the company would put up the building. Farmers brought in wagons full of
huge rocks from their farms and the stage was set. Michigan Central sent a crew of stone
masons and in 1887 they began to cut and build. This was a two-year project and in 1889
the depot was completed and a grand opening was held.
~ THE PRESENT ~
The Standish Depot Preservation Committee has formed under the umbrella of the Arenac County Historical Society. The committee believes that this historic landmark is worth saving for future generations.
The Michigan Central Depot was the center of commerce, information and transportation and became a landmark to identify our community.
In 1988 the depot was in a sorry state of repair when Robert and Karen Wiltse purchased it and renovated it for their real estate business. Through their renovation effort, they
had the forethought to preserve the integrity of its original architecture as well as having it placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
The Depot Committee plans to continue to preserve the depot to ensure that it will be
enjoyed by all citizens, their children, grandchildren and generations beyond. The Depot
Committee has entered into a purchase agreement with the Wiltses. The committee has begun
a major fundraising campaign and is applying for grant opportunities.
The Depot Committee is also interested in collecting depot stories and pictures that can be compiled in a history book.
~ THE FUTURE ~
Future plans for the Standish Depot include a visitor's center to promote Standish, Arenac County and Michigan's Sunrise Side.
Railroad artifacts and depot memorabilia would be displayed in the depot by the Arenac
County Historical Society. The visitor's center would be staffed by volunteers.
The Depot Committee would like the Depot to again become a central part of our
community. Possibilities include office space and a meeting place for groups such as the
Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity, Friends of the Library, and other civic and community organizations.
Depot stories and pictures can be mailed to the Depot Preservation Committee in care of Pleasantries, PO Box 295, Standish, MI 48658.
Monetary donations may be made payable to the Arenac County Historical Society with the designation that it is for the Depot Preservation and mailed to the above address.
If you would like to talk to someone about this project or obtain more information please call Ruth Caldwell at (989) 846-9880 or Brenda Matt at (989) 846-0501.
The Committee meets the first Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at Pleasantries Gift Shop in Standish located next to the Standish Bakery and Restaurant.
Click here for additional information on donations to the Michigan Central Depot Project.