Monthly Archives: August 2014

“Back on Track” Documentary Screening & Rail-Themed Presentations at Union Depot

August 26, 2014
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Union Depot in St. Paul will celebrate local railway history with special activities on Saturday, September 20 from 11:30 am – 6:00 pm. The public is invited to attend a screening of “Back on Track: The Rebirth of St. Paul’s Union Depot,” a documentary by Greg Ellis about the renovation of the historic structure, followed by a Q & A session with the filmmaker. Author Bill Schrankler will speak about his recent book, “Shadows of Time…Minnesota’s Surviving Railroad Depots,” and noted historian and author John Diers will lead a special tour of Union Depot. The events are free and open to the public. The documentary screening and the special tour require free tickets, click on “Events” tab at

Ellis’ film, a detailed chronicle of the dramatic renovation of the historic gem, will be shown in the Red Cap Room on second floor at Union Depot. Guests will be treated to a review of the meticulous work by dedicated teams of architects, engineers, construction workers, historians and preservationists that culminated in the transformation of the building from an empty, decaying state back to its magnificent original glory complete with modern amenities. Ellis is an independent corporate live event and video producer/director who has contributed to more than 100 major corporate productions.

Schrankler, son of an Orphan Train Rider, has had a lifelong love affair with trains and train depots. His book, co-authored with Frederick L. Johnson and published in 2013, covers 168 of Minnesota’s existing railroad depots with beautiful photography, maps and history. He will read from his book and discuss Minnesota’s rich railroad history. Eleven images from his book have been enlarged and will be displayed at Union Depot in the Head House below the East Clock from September 8 through October 31.

Diers, author of “St. Paul Union Depot,” will lead guests on a tour of the historic space. His book, also published in 2013, is a rich historical account of Union Depot, from its golden days in the 1920s when hundreds of trains came and went each day and more than twenty million pieces of mail were processed each year, to the early 1970s when passenger rail travel ceased for more than 40 years.

In addition to the special events, Union Depot will host the September 17 return of the Riders on the Orphan Train audio-visual production. For more information about the events and for ticketing to all events, including the Riders on the Orphan Train performance, visit

Colossal Film Installation to Transform Union Depot

August 12, 2014

Minnesota Poems-Turned-Films will be Projected onto Façade of Historic Building

Noted poet and film producer Todd Boss, co-founder and artistic director of Motionpoems, will present a massive, one-of-a-kind audio-visual public art experience at Union Depot for one night only, Friday, October 10, to coincide with the St. Paul Art Crawl. The project, titled “Arrivals & Departures,” will be a compilation of four poems on the theme of “arrivals and departures” by Minnesota poets that have been made into four short (four to five minute) films by Minnesota filmmakers.  The films will be projected across the façade of Union Depot on nine 35’ tall screens hung between the structure’s columns.  From dusk to 10:30 p.m., the films will run on a continual loop.

Boss, an advocate for light rail transit and historical public buildings, was inspired to create a work of art that would celebrate the beauty and renaissance of the historic Union Depot through a series of motionpoems created by using 3D mapping technology to fuse poetry and film into a spectacular evening community gathering.  He began planning the project in 2012 and has to date invested an estimated 1,000 hours producing the work. The poets were chosen from a statewide contest co-sponsored by the Loft Literary Center and include Linda Back McKay, Robert Dougherty, Brian Beatty, and Mike Rollin. Boss is working with Pixel Farm Creative of Minneapolis who digitally mapped Union Depot and created an architectural template for use by the filmmakers. The four filmmakers include the teams at Pixel Farm and Browntown Collective and independent artists Nick Clausen and Barbara Weiner. The films’ voiceover work is by talent from the Guthrie Theatre and New York City artists. The project was funded by support from the City of St. Paul, the St. Paul Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a successful Kickstarter campaign and many individual donors.

The concept of Motionpoems was born in 2008 when animator and film producer Angella Kassube animated one of Boss’s poems. The production was embraced by the arts and literary communities and one year later the duo presented a public screening of 12 pieces they’d created and dubbed Motionpoems to a packed house at Open Book. This new hybrid of poetry and film launched a movement into mainstream media, blogs, YouTube, international film festivals, classrooms, art galleries and more. Boss has published two poetry books, Yellowrocket in 2008, followed by Pitch in 2012, and he was awarded the Emily Clark Balch Prize.  His poems have appeared in Poetry, The London Times, The New Yorker, NPR, Best American Poetry, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Both of his books have been finalists for the Minnesota Book Award.

The artist’s goal is to make the “Arrivals & Departures” production an annual event.  Following this inaugural year featuring Minnesota artists, the plan is to invite poets and filmmakers to submit their work nationally in 2015, internationally in 2016 and then statewide again in 2017.  The event is free and open to the public.  For more information about the event, visit and for information about Motionpoems, visit

‘Riders on the Orphan Train’ Tells Story of ‘Largest Child Migration in History’

August 6, 2014

Multimedia Performance at Union Depot September 17th

Although few Minnesotans know the history of the orphan trains, the exodus of more than 250,000 children from the East coast has been called the ‘largest child migration in history’. Between 1854 and 1929, thousands of children were put on trains, primarily in New York City, and sent all over the United States to be placed with new families. One of those stops was Union Depot in St. Paul, and on September 17th, Union Depot will commemorate that experience with Riders on the Orphan Train.

Austin, Texas-based novelist and scholar Alison Moore and musician Phil Lancaster have teamed up to create an unique audio visual experience, comprising historical fiction, actual interviews, archival images and musical ballads that bring the Orphan Train movement to life.

Moore and Lancaster describe the motivation behind their performance: “This seventy-six year experiment in child relocation is filled with the entire spectrum of human emotion and reveals a great deal about the successes and failures of the American Dream.”

Riders on the Orphan Train has been performed nationally since 1997. Moore, author of the historical novel “Riders on the Orphan Train”, and Lancaster were awarded the Charles Loring Brace Award in recognition for helping to preserve the stories of the Orphan Train riders. Theirs is the official outreach program for the National Orphan Train Complex Museum and Research in Concordia, Kansas.

Moore and Lancaster invite any surviving Minnesota orphan train riders and their families to tell their own stories at this performance.

“Union Depot is once again a place of reunion, departure and new beginnings,” said Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega, chair of the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority. “Bringing Riders on the Orphan Train to this historic site is one way we can keep the stories of this special group of individuals who passed through Union Depot alive for future generations.”

What: Multimedia performance of Riders on the Orphan Train, with historical fiction, interviews, images and music. This 60-minute presentation tells the story of 250,000 children, primarily from New York City, who were given away at train stations throughout the country from 1854-1929.

Who: Performers Alison Moore and Phil Lancaster ( and

When: 7 p.m., Wednesday, September 17th

Where: Red Cap Room – Concourse Second Floor
Union Depot
214 E. Fourth Street, St. Paul, MN, 55101

Tickets: Tickets may be purchased online at Price is $12; $10 with promotional code, ORPHAN14. Ticket price only includes admission and tickets are nonrefundable.

Jones Lang LaSalle Hires Events Sales Manager for Union Depot Location

August 4, 2014

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) has hired Eveline Martinez to be the Events Sales Manager at Union Depot in downtown St. Paul.  Martinez will be responsible for promoting and selling event space at the historic landmark, from weddings and corporate functions to galas and community gatherings.

Martinez comes to JLL and Union Depot from Crowne Plaza St. Paul where she was Sales Manager and worked closely with clients to establish budgets, room layouts and other event details.  Prior to her years at Crowne Plaza, she worked in Bristol, Connecticut at ESPN as an Assignment Editor and Production Assistant, coordinating live events and tapings for the network’s shows.

Union Depot has four indoor spaces and two outdoor spaces that can be rented for events.  The largest space, the Waiting Room, can accommodate up to 1,200 guests for a seated meal. Groups interested in renting event space at Union Depot can contact Martinez at 651.202.2708 or