Historic Structures

Building Description Wisconsin Central Freight Station (Chicago Great Western), Minneapolis Minnesota

The original character of the front facade was Neoclassical in design. The building is three stories tall over a full basement. In keeping with the utilitarian function of the building, architectural details are confined to the Hennepin A venue facade. The primary design element on the front facade was stone quoining at the corners of the building and around the off-set Hennepin A venue entrance, stone sill and lintel bands above and below the first story windows, and a massive railroad stone emblem in relief between the second and third stories. These designs were executed in a grayish or light tan stone contrasting with the red brick wall sheathing. The original stone emblem consisted of the "Wisconsin Central Railway" decorative shield flanked by large letters which read "Freight Station." Around 1912, this shield was replaced by a round emblem which read "Chicago Great Western," but the "Freight Station" element in stone remained.

Prior to demolition, the second emblem had been partially damaged in places but was readable. It had also been painted red as has the entire front facade and the southeast 100 feet of the southwest facade, except for the window sills on the Hennepin Avenue side. These changes have all but ruined the original architectural design of the front facade.

The northeast wall facing the Mississippi River is four stories tall including the exposed basement level where the land drops off toward the river. The rear of the northeast wall is gently curved inward to accommodate the adjacent tracks which were in place when the building was constructed in 1907. The basement level retains its original poured-in-place concrete posts, but at this trackage level, the open bays have been infilled with concrete block, preventing access to the basement level.

The southwest wall, away from the river, is three stories tall with a rhythm of nine large loading dock door openings with massive stone and concrete lintels. Centered over each door is a small brick segmented arched window on the upper two floors. The wall is also reinforced with five substantial nearly square brick and structural clay tile freight elevator penthouses projecting above the flat roof. The building is visually simple, functional, and massive.

Overall dimensions: 79'-8 1/2" wide at the front, 64'-2" wide at the rear, 415'-7 1/2" long. It is three bays wide by 23 bays long, and three stories tall over a full basement.