The first Chicago Milwaukee Saint Paul and Pacific Depot, Freight House, and Train Shed (Washington Avenue and Third Avenue South) were built around 1879, although the Freight House is the only remaining property today. The original station was razed in 1899 and a new depot built on the same block in the Renaissance Revival style. Architect Charles Sumner Frost, who designed the Navy Pier in Chicago was the designer. The depot is detailed with arched doorways, a heavy cornice, and terra cotta wreath ornaments on the exterior, and marble floors, detailed plaster walls, and carved wood ceilings in the interior. A tower, originally rising 140 feet, was capped with an elaborate cupola that was removed after extensive storm damage in 1941. The long-span, steel truss-roofed train shed stretches approximately 625 feet along Washington Avenue and is historically significant as one of only twelve remaining train sheds in the United States. The depot is integral to the historic milling district, both geographically and chronologically, since virtually all the buildings date from the 1880s.
Architecturally, this is a head or stub-type station, meaning that the railroad tracks terminate at the station building or head house. This station replaced an earlier side station, which fronted on Washington Avenue. The 1890s saw the decline of the head station in favor of the through-type station where the tracks pass uninterrupted through or beneath the building.
At its peak of activity in 1920, twenty-nine trains per day used the depot. The station was closed in 1971 and stood vacant for many years as various redevelopment and reuse plans fizzled. In 1998, CSM Corporation began a project to reuse the depot, including a Renaissance Hotel and Residence Inn by Marriott, an indoor water park, and an enclosed outdoor ice skating rink located in the former train shed. The project was completed in 2001.