The structure’s origins date back to 1902 when the townships of Perry and Bloomington voted for an $85,000 subsidy to lure a second rail line to the area. The Illinois Central Railroad opted to build a new railroad through Bloomington and constructed the depot four years later.
The Illinois Central Railroad Freight Depot is significant for its architectural style and for its role in the development of the City of Bloomington. The building is an example of the functional style of industrial architecture of the late 19th century, which had no decorative embellishments. The depot was built initially as a one-story structure in 1906 with the aid of local government subsidies and was instrumental in the growth of the area’s industry and commerce.
Business peaked in the 1920s, which led to the depot’s expansion in 1922. The second story was added to serve as an office. Plank flooring was laid over the old office floor to level it up with the floor of the freight room. A new firewall was built on the north side of the two-story portion, and the foundation was repaired and strengthened. Some windows and doors were removed, and the openings were filled with clapboard, similar to the initial build.
A century later, as additional forms of transportation superseded the railroad and business declined, so did the depot’s size. In 1959, a 54-foot-long section was removed from the northern end of the freight room, decreasing it by half, making it adequate to handle the declined volume of railroad shipments. By 1963, the building ceased to function as a depot.
CFC Properties, a real estate development and property management company, purchased and renovated the depot in 1983. Many original features were preserved and restored, including the freight scales in the north room and the sliding freight door on the north end.
Given its considerable historic significance, the Illinois Central Railroad Freight Depot is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
CFC sold the property in 2021.