Pere Marquette Depot building

Bay City, Michigan

Restoring the Pere Marquette Depot building was like raising the phoenix from the ashes. After a productive life as a full-service train depot in downtown Bay City, Michigan, the train left town and Greyhound took it over as a bus station, demolishing the iconic tower, removing the canopies, and flooring over the two-story waiting room. It was during this period of bus use that I attended college at the University of Michigan, and I frequently took the bus between Bay City and Ann Arbor, never giving a thought to the depot’s former use for trains. When bus service was moved to a new transportation center, the building was vacated; it sat empty, except for vandals and squatters and miscellaneous storage, until the late-1990s.

Leading the Quinn Evans Architects’ team to restore the depot was a true labor of love, from curious cold-winter inspection trips, to designing the perfect blend of interior restoration with adaptive use for offices and community assembly, to seeing the long-missing, character-defining features reconstructed. Enthusiastic engagement with the Bay Area Community Foundation, new owners of the building, and dedicated execution by the local contractors, made this project one of the most enjoyable in my career. Finishing the project on-time and under-budget made everyone happy. For a while, we referred to the project as the “poster child” of preservation, as it won every award for which we submitted materials, plus some for which we did not submit anything, such as the coveted Michigan Governor’s Award for Preservation Excellence. The good news is that it is weathering well and has regained its highly-visable, admirable place in the community.