Officially named the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad East Saginaw Depot most locals call it the Potter Street Station or just the train depot. Built in 1881, this structure was designed by the architectural genius Bradford Lee Gilbert. That’s not tongue in cheek, the man boasted a phenomenal career that included the first sky scraper in New York City, the first expansion of Grand Central Station, the first flat iron building in the country in Atlanta, and numerous train stations across the country. Unfortunately this magnificent building has lost some of its splendor to the ravages of time. A fire in the 1990’s took much of the roof which was replaced but the highest portion of the building collapsed. The building was the train station for Saginaw, Michigan until 1955 when passenger service to Saginaw was discontinued. Railroad company mergers and acquisitions spare the station from the wrecking ball and the structure was used to house railroad crews and supplies until 1986.
There’s a fair amount of local interest in preserving the structure but the challenges are daunting. Last I heard it would take approximately twelve million dollars to return the structure to functional and rentable status. Finding that kind of money in Saginaw is no easy task. On top of it, the train station is in a rough section of town. The opposite side of the street literally looks like a Scooby-Doo ghost town. Even if the building were in perfect condition tomorrow it would be challenging to find tenants. Despite these challenges I think it’s a structure worthy of retaining. Many of Gilbert’s buildings are gone and the ones that are left should be preserved. In Saginaw and much of the rust belt when you want to save a historic building, you slap a new roof on it and begin a slow march looking for funding. That’s where this building is at, it’s where it’s been for a few decades. It’s the stasis of many historic treasures.
A word of urbex warning: this building is monitored with cameras, do not break in and look around. Ask permission and a member of the The Saginaw Depot Preservation Corporation will schedule a tour for you.
I shot this with my Bronica SQa with a 35mm panoramic back using a yellow filter to bring out the clouds more. I haven’t offered this for sale on Etsy yet but prints are available!