Architect Matt Coen — former Crestonian — will investigate what structural and cosmetic upgrades are needed at the restored Creston Depot

Creston’s “architectural gem” may soon get a facelift.

Creston City Council recently voted to allow an architectural firm to begin investigating what structural and cosmetic upgrades are needed at the restored Creston Depot.

Mike Taylor, city administrator, said plaster is coming off the walls and a few windows are beginning to rot. He said it’s important to restore the building properly, or it will lose value.

Thus, the city has acquired the services of Matt Coen of Walker Coen Lorentzen — an architectural firm based in Des Moines.

Matt Coen — a graduate of Iowa State University — is familiar with Creston. He and his parents Craig and Linda lived here until he was 5 years old. He is the nephew of dentist Dan Coen and furniture store owner Mike Coen.

“My roots grow deep in Creston,” Coen said, “and I’m excited about the opportunity to be part of this project. It’s my understanding this is one of two depots remaining (in the United States) built by Burnham and Root. We think it’s an architectural gem. It’s a solidly-built depot, and we are going to ensure it continues to be an asset to this community and lives a long future.”

Building history

Creston’s restored depot was designed by architects Daniel Burnham and John Wellborn Root — among the nation’s most distinguished architects in the 19th century. It was adorned “a magnificent passenger station” by the public, according to Union County historical records.

The depot has concrete footings and rubble foundation. The exterior walls are cut stone to the windowsills, and above it’s built of St. Louis pressed brick. A heavy, copper cornice caps the exterior walls. The roof attracts special attention because of it’s semi-glazed tile.

The depot received recognition in 1974 when it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of six structures in Union County to receive that honor.

The other five are Iowana Hotel, Gibson Memorial Library, Grand River Bridge, Jefferson Elementary School and the former U.S. Post Office (now Maple Street Memories).

Process starts

Coen said 1977 was the last time the depot received any major renovations.

Kevin Kruse, Creston public works director, said Coen was in Creston Wednesday surveying the building.

“He was here yesterday looking around and taking pictures,” Kruse said. “It was a fact-finding visit. We also found an old set of building plans, and he copied those before he left.”

Coen said he will return to Creston at least once more for a follow-up observation of the building. He will then prepare a facility condition report and summary of tasks needed to be completed at the building.

Coen is expected to present that report to the Creston City Council 45 to 60 days from now. City officials fully expect this project to be expensive, and that’s why they are asking for a cost summary now, so renovations can be phased in over the next four to five years.