Depot in park to be moved to KensingtonDouglas County Parks Superintendent Al Lieffort and Mel Conrad, president of the Kensington Area Heritage Society, met in Kensington on March 1.
Douglas County Parks Superintendent Al Lieffort and Mel Conrad, president of the Kensington Area Heritage Society, met in Kensington on March 1.
It was agreed that the Kensington depot, which currently rests in the Ohman farmyard at Kensington Rune Stone Park, will be moved to the Heritage Society’s museum property this year.
June 6 was selected as the target move date in anticipation of the Rune Stone Days celebration marking the 125th anniversary of the platting of the village.
Significant changes within Kensington Rune Stone Park will result from implementing the overall plan to improve the historical interpretation of the park and to make the facility more enjoyable for the visitor.
Preservation work has begun on the Ohman house-including rebuilding the rock walls in the cellar, repairing the stairway to the cellar, and installing a sump pump.
To begin the restoration of the house to reflect the Ohman lifestyle of the late 19th to early 20th century, period shingles have been installed and the interior walls prepared for covering with wallpaper consistent with the desired time frame.
When the Ohman farm was purchased in the 1970s, several of the original structures (blacksmith shop, granary, out house, etc.) were in various stages of disrepair and subsequently torn down.
These structures could possibly be replicated or their location marked with ghost sites and signage.
Restoring the farmyard necessitates the removal of the Kensington depot since it is not relevant to the historic interpretation of the Ohman lifestyle, according to Lieffort and Conrad.
The depot, facing certain destruction, was moved to Kensington Rune Stone Park in 1975.
At that time, the park was the only available public site where the preservation of this historic structure would be assured.
Built in 1886 by the Minneapolis and Pacific Railway, the depot today is in its pristine original condition.
Representatives from the Soo Line Historical & Technical Society have called it “a real gem” and a unique example of former depots along the Soo Line.
It is the only Soo Line depot in Minnesota that has not been remodeled or altered from the original construction. If the depot agent or passengers of the 1880s could walk into the depot today, they would immediately recognize the building as essentially identical to the one they first used, Conrad said.
Moving the Kensington depot is a joint effort. Douglas County will arrange to lift the building from its foundation, move it to Kensington, and set it on the new foundation.
The Kensington Area Heritage Society is responsible for preparing the site and constructing the new foundation.
The depot will be situated on museum property, parallel to and south of State Highway 55. This site is nearly straight south of where the depot was first constructed in 1886 on railroad property.
The moving project is estimated to cost between $10,000 and $15,000. The Heritage Society is enlisting public donations for its portion of the costs ($5,000 to $6,000).
Those interested in helping with restoring this historic piece of Americana to within feet of its original location, may send donations to: Kensington Area Heritage Society, P.O. Box 54, Kensington, MN 56343. The Heritage Society is classified as a non-profit charitable organization and contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.