Historic Structures

Chicago and Northwestern Train Depot, Redfield South Dakota

Date added: August 22, 2022 Categories: South Dakota Train Station

The Redfield Depot is an example of the work of Charles Frost of Frost and Granger of Chicago, the major architectural firm retained by the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. It is also an example of the Gothic Revival as it evolved in the Midwest by the onset of World War I. As a station, the design is one of the most refined of the small stations along the Chicago Northwestern line in South Dakota. The depot design is distinguished by the use of Gothic ornament on the transept, which marks the entrance lobby and agent's office. In this period, the Gothic Revival was used predominantly for institutional buildings and is is rarely found on commercial buildings. Several bold and stylized details are emphasized as focal points on the building and are set against a background of simple massing and broad planes of brick, a typical handling of the Gothic Revival at this time. This refined design emphasized that this depot was built to plans drawn specifically for it instead of from a standard design as was common for depots of small towns.

The first Chicago and Northwestern depot was built in 1891, ten years after the town had been named in honor of an auditor for the railroad. Redfield was a sub-division point for the line and at certain periods as many as 250 residents of the town worked for the rail company. In 1979, eighteen years after it stopped service as a depot the building was purchased by the present owners, who are restoring the building for new use.

The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad station in Redfield operated as a passenger depot until 1961 and also served for many years as a freight depot. It is now owned by the Dakota Hatchery and Mill.

The building is red brick with stone dressings and a slate roof. It is a long rectangle crossed by a transept which rises above the low hip roof of the station. Each end of the transept is filled by a large stone arch which marks the entrance on the north side and spans the bay window on the track side. The splayed arches jambs of the arches are ribbed in imitation of Gothic ornament and this design theme is continued with the stone coping of the transept gables which terminate with hooded monks heads carved in stone. Also notable in the exterior are the low eyebrow windows on the hip roof. The Gothic motif is continued on the interior with the beamed ceiling of the waiting room which is supported from pendant posts. The majority of the original woodwork and hardware of the interior is intact. The western portion of the building contained separate men's and women's waiting rooms. The transept contained the entrance and the agent's office which had ticket windows facing the entrance and an exterior bay window facilitating the view along the tracks. East of the entrance hall was the dining room, the kitchen, telegraph office and the freight office. The only major alteration to the building has been the addition of the large garage doors on the eastern end.