City’s official 2019 ornament features Milwaukee Depot and is now available

The official 2019 Great Falls City Christmas ornament is the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Passenger Depot, commonly called the Milwaukee Depot.

The ornament was designed by local artist Sheree Nelson and will be available at the Christmas Stroll on Dec. 6 at the corner of Central and 6th Street, near the trolley.

The ornaments are $15 and are also available for purchase at the Civic Center in the planning office; the Great Falls Public Library; Gallery 16; The History Museum; and the downtown office at 318 Central Ave.

city 2019 christmas ornament

The Milwaukee Depot ornament is the 12th in a series featuring significant historic buildings in Great Falls and Cascade County. The featured building is selected by the city-county Historic Preservation Advisory Commission annually.

The official Christmas ornament project was created by City Commission resolution in 2008.

Proceeds from the ornament sales provide a discretionary fund for the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission to be used for preservation education programs such as downtown revitalization workshops, production of the popular walking tour brochures, preservation awards and a match for grants.

The first ornament, in 2008, featured the Civic Center and marked the 75th anniversary of the New Deal, of which the Civic Center was a project.

Since then, ornaments have celebrated the Vinegar Jones Cabin, Great Falls’ first permanent residence; the Great Northern Depot, now Energy West; the Ursuline Centre; Great Falls High School; Paris Gibson Square; the Commander’s Quarters at Fort Shaw; C.M. Russell’s Studio; the Masonic Temple, Belt Theater; and the Cascade County Courthouse.

Past ornaments can still be purchased at the Planning and Community Development Office for a reduced price of $7.50.

Considered one of the most significant buildings in the Great Falls Railroad Historic District, the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Passenger Depot was constructed in 1914 to coincide with the arrival of the new railroad. The front gabled, Mission-style building contains one of the most character-defining and recognizable features for the Great Falls skyline: its 135-foot square tower, containing a tile mosaic emblem bearing the name of the railroad company for which it was built. It has an outer veneer of bricks that were fired in the Anaconda Copper Mining Company kilns, and a Spanish tile roof. Restored in the 1970s and again in the 1990s, the depot deserves to be recognized as a stunning example of Renaissance Revival railroad architecture.