Here, steel beams have been inserted through holes made in the brick walls all along the bottom of the building: these would be used to lift the depot on and off the flatbed of the Mack truck. The chimney was also removed, temporarily, for fear that the vibration of the move would cause it to crumble.
The planned demolition of the 1874 depot was only one small part of a larger plan for 1974 that entailed the destruction of other familiar Village landmarks: the 1910 Village Hall, with its distinctive colonnades, the 1897 train station, and the big Hoffman Lumber Company building and lot east of the depot, which had been in operation on that spot for the better part of a century. These would all be replaced by a new station north of central, a new village hall, and lots of parking space for commuters and visitors.
All of these plans had their detractors, but it was the imminent loss of the little 1870s railway station, a building that had played so crucial a role in the growth of the young village, that most troubled Joanne Andrews, President of the Wilmette Historical Society. “Ten years from now, if the depot is destroyed,” she told a reporter from the Chicago Tribune, “I’m sure people then will shame this generation for not having saved this little brick piece of history.” With her colleagues on the Historical Society board, she determined to try to rescue the building. A Village-wide “Save the Depot” campaign prompted a generous response. Even Senator Charles Percy wrote to Wilmette’s President and Board of Trustees to praise the plan. A majority of Trustees were likewise supportive, overruling the Zoning Board to make available a municipal parking lot at 1135 Wilmette Ave. as the new site for the depot.
But could the depot be moved? One wrecking company told the Village Manager that the mortar between the bricks would crumble, and the old building would literally fall to pieces if anyone attempted to move it. But Advance Moving Contractors disagreed, and plans went ahead. Because Green Bay Road is a state road, state approval had to be obtained. Finally, after months of fund-raising and planning, the date was set: Thursday, June 13, 1974, at 7 p.m.