Thursday, February 25, 2010

Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad Station, Saginaw, Michigan

Saginaw, Michigan, was once a prosperous timber and, later, manufacturing city in northeast Michigan. It was founded in 1816 as a trading post on the Saginaw River and grew rapidly throughout the 1800s. The first railroad to enter East Saginaw was the Flint and Pere Marquette, to be followed by other lines as the city's trade and industrial capacity increased.

During the height of their power and industry, the F&PM Railroad built a magnificent brick station on Potter Street. I am not sure of the exact date or architect, but the size of the structure attest to the amount of passenger traffic in the 1880s. The detailing and quality construction also attest to a pride of construction and desire to make a lasting monument that we seldom see today.

The Potter Street station was abandoned decades ago, and AMTRAK uses a different station in another part of town. Northeast Saginaw is blighted and no development plans have borne results. Sometime in the mid- to late-1990s, the station was gutted by fire. Several groups have attempted restoration, but the great building remains a gutted shell. Some of the towers and walls have been braced to prevent collapse. I fear this fine example of American industrial architecture will continue to deteriorate.


  1. Ah, very cool. It's a shame what happens to such awesome examples of our early industrial architecture. The Industrial Revolution brought so much prosperity to cities all over the country, and took every bit of back as the factories and related buildings closed their doors. Bittersweet U.S. history for sure.

  2. You are right, it is bittersweet. For 150 years, we built inspiring and creative architecture as a symbol of our optimism, our desire to create a greater nation. An now?

  3. The architect was Bradford L. Gilbert, and the structure was erected c. 1881.

    I think that the station will continue to decay, as it’s carved off from downtown by Interstate 675, so even if downtown East Saginaw were to experience a rebirth, it’s unlikely to carry with it those areas to the north.

    1. Would you happen to know the heights of both floors?