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Museum celebrates 45 years at train depot

Alex Doty • Aug 26, 2017 at 11:00 AM

The past, present and future of the Depot Museum of Transportation was celebrated during a special community gathering Friday afternoon.

"We're having an open house to celebrate our 45th year of operating the depot as a museum,” said Tri-Cities Historical Museum Executive Director Julie Bunke. “We are also in the process of wrapping up the last season of having it open to the public for museum exhibits.”

As of Oct. 1, the museum will hand the keys to the building — built in 1870 — back to the city after leasing the space for museum purposes since 1972. Bunke noted that the location will be open through Labor Day weekend before it closes and items are packed up.

"It's kind of bittersweet, but this building is ready for its next chapter in history,” she said.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the city would incorporate the depot into the new Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium project. A planned addition to the depot will be designed as an extension to the space. It will continue the old depot’s roof line to the north side of the building and include similar architectural elements. The new space will add restrooms, a ticketing area, a small catering kitchen and a public service/concessions area for Waterfront Stadium.

Bunke noted that the changes also coincide with the opening of the museum’s archival facility on 172nd Avenue in Grand Haven Township.

“We've kind of devoted our resources to that now,” she said. “That will be a storage area and community archive.”

As for the artifacts that were on display inside the depot, Bunke said people need not worry about what will happen to them.

"We’ll do rotating exhibits throughout our Akeley Building (200 Washington Ave.), as well as community outreach," she said. “So these things will be on display, just in a different fashion in the future."

Bunke noted that many of the Coast Guard items at the depot will be available to view downtown next summer.

”We're actually planning on moving a great deal of the Coast Guard items to our main Centennial Hall in the Akeley Building,” she said. “In 2018, for the entire summer, we'll have Coast Guard exhibits up, so they'll definitely be on display."

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