The Michigan Central Railroad Station, which is today's Clara's on the River restaurant, will be in the spotlight tonight, February 15th, 2021, at 7 pm.

It’s the latest program in a series by Michael “Mac” McCullough, of Willard Library, along with local Battle Creek historians and preservationists.  Tonight, among Mac’s guests will be the current owner of Clara’s on the River, Ross Simpson.  Simpson will talk about the renovation of the depot in the early ’90s, and subsequent work on the building.  The architect on the project, Randy Case, will also be part of the show.  Case was active in the 100-year celebration of the depot in 1988, and efforts to save it from the wrecking ball.    Willard Library has some great photos of the depot, but tonight’s program will also feature some other photos, courtesy of local historian Kurt Thornton, who will be part of the program as well.

Michigan Central Depot-Willard Library

The Michigan Central Station opened in 1888, and was in service for nearly 100 years, until 1982.   It sat empty and its future was certainly in doubt until Simpson and his business partner bought it in 1989 and transformed it into “Clara’s on the River.”

Thomas Edison as well as Presidents William Howard Taft and Gerald Ford visited the depot.  President Taft spoke at the Depot on September 21, 1911. This photo shows the President, and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (in the white coat), C. W. Post, and W. K. Kellogg.

President Taft in Battle Creek-Willard Library

Rogers and McFarlane of Detroit designed the depot, one of several Richardsonian Romanesque-style stations between Detroit and Chicago built in the late nineteenth century.

If you have a smartphone, and smart TV, you can watch it on your big screen.

  1. Make sure your iPhone or iPad are on the same wifi.
  2. Swipe UP on your iPhone and select “screen mirroring”
  3. Select your TV if it pops up on the display screen. Start mirroring.
  4. Start playing the program on your phone or iPad, using the above-mentioned feeds, on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or WillardLibrary.org
  5. You might have to get into the menu on your smart tv to enable screen mirroring.

If you miss the live feed, you can always watch later or check out one of the other programs on the Willard Library YouTube page. 

Clock tower at Clara's in Battle Creek. Photo by WBCK/Townsquare Media.
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