Old Soo Line Depot a beacon for budding new enterprisesThree presidents have graced the platform of this historic structure: Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, and Calvin Coolidge.
By: By DANIELLE KAEDING, The Daily Telegram
Three presidents have graced the platform of this historic structure: Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, and Calvin Coolidge. Hollywood jumped at the opportunity to capture the building’s history in the feature film “Iron Will.”
The old Soo Line Depot is a significant landmark in Superior’s history. The Winter Street building will be celebrating its 100th birthday this coming December. Depot owner Jim Demeyer says it has come a long way since he bought it in October 1992.
“It was all boarded up. No heat. No water. No electricity. Somehow I convinced my wife to move in here at the end of October with a five-year-old and a two-year-old. It had been empty for I don’t know how many years.”
The depot was in dire need of repair, according to Demeyer.
“Pretty much every part of this building has been painted or patched or sanded. When I first moved in, the building was pretty much stuck in the 1950s. I actually brought it back to more of its original state.”
Demeyer said he bought the depot because it seemed like a “cool building” and it struck a chord with him.
“The little gas station across the street was my grandfather’s, and then my father’s, so I grew up looking at this place. I just kind of fell in love with it.”
For the last 15 years, Demeyer has been taking care of the building and, more recently, the businesses within, said shop owner Cristine Crum. Crum began renting space for her businesses the Candy Caboose and Northern Edge three years ago.
“We started out where we were just a candy store, bath and body gifts, and showing local artwork,” Crum said.
The economy has slowed business at the depot in the past couple years according to the Superior business owner. Crum says Demeyer’s support for small business has helped her through the rough spots.
“If it gets a little tough, he works things out so that we can stay here because he wants to see businesses in here,” Crum said.
“I like bringing old things back to life, and I’m very small business-orientated,” Demeyer said. “I’d like to see small business instead of everything being corporate America.”
Now, Crum is setting her sights on a new business venture at the depot.
“It’ll be like an indoor trade show for caterers, limos, whatever so that when you have a party you can order everything through us. You can order the caterer, decorations, party favors — everything. It’s like a one stop shop.”
The business is called Party Investigators Planning. Crum hopes it will benefit community members.
“It gives the local people an option,” said Crum. “They don’t have to go into Duluth. They can come right here. I can do all the work for them so they don’t have to go here, there, everywhere.”
In the future, Crum and Demeyer hope to see small business flourish at the depot and throughout Superior.
“His idea of business in this area is Whoville — all for one and one for all,” Crum said.
Danielle Kaeding is a Wisconsin Public Radio reporter and freelance writer.