Oregon Depot Endowment in Honor of Otto Dick
To preserve and maintain the Oregon Depot Museum, to expand and improve the Veteran's Room, and to expand and improve the educational offerings in the community.
The very first depot in Oregon was a two-story building constructed in 1872. It was a frame structure with ticket office, passenger waiting room, and freight room on the first floor and crew sleeping quarters on the second floor. A fire was discovered at 5 am on Saturday, November 10, 1893, and an alarm was sounded and the fire bell was rung. The fire department showed up with their hose cart, but because the nearest fireplug was one-half mile from the depot, the structure burned to the ground. The building, insured for $3,000, was a total loss.
The railroad promptly replaced the original depot with a frugal single story frame structure in 1894, but that too was struck by fire in 1909; this time however, the Oregon Fire Department was able to save most of the building. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad had serious doubts as to whether the salvaged building warranted replacement, and was considering the elimination of Oregon as a passenger stop altogether.
At the time however, one of the more influential residents of the area was Congressman Frank Lowden who had established his Sinnissippi farm just southeast of Oregon; but perhaps of equal significance was the fact that the congressman’s wife Florence happened to be the daughter of George Pullman, manufacturer of the Pullman Palace cars, widely used for passenger service among all of the nation’s railroads. Lowden’s input weighed heavily in the railroad’s ultimate decision to build a brand new single story depot in 1913.
The new depot was built of brick, and featured terrazzo floors with walls covered half-way to the ceiling with white ceramic glazed tile. Three back-to-back oak benches adorned the waiting room, while two others occupied the restrooms.
Passengers boarded trains from the depot until 1971. Burlington Northern continued to use the structure for office space until 1986, when the property was sold to the city of Oregon for one dollar. The depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. But as the structure continued to show signs of human neglect and weather beating, action was needed if this piece of history was to be preserved. In the summer of 2001, with financial assistance from the City of Oregon and several private donors, a hearty group of volunteers led by Bob Rees of Oregon and Jerry Stauffer, a Mount Morris native, began the Oregon Depot Restoration Project. Learn more about their efforts and a detailed history of the depot at the Oregon Depot Museum website.
In fall 2022, the board of the Oregon Depot Museum was approached by a local donor who wished to establish an endowment for the benefit of the Depot Museum. This anonymous donor suggested the board work with the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois to manage the endowment, and subsequent conversations led to the establishment of the Oregon Depot Endowment in Honor of Otto Dick.
Your support of this fund ensures this beautiful structure, the museum property, and its unique history will be maintained and shared with generations to come. THANK YOU!
Would you like to support the Oregon Depot Endowment in Honor of Otto Dick? You can make a donation directly to this fund, to help grow its impact and ability to provide educational resources for students in our community — forever!