St. Louis County has hired a director to manage operations at the St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center (the Depot).
Mary Tennis, who has a background in both business and the arts, will fill this newly created position. She is expected to start July 8.
Tennis, of Duluth, has been the longtime general manager of Northern Waters Smokehaus in Canal Park. She holds degrees in both art history and English, and is president of the Duluth Public Arts Commission.
Her position at the Depot is a new one, created to improve the management and operations of the facility, and to work with the tenant organizations, which include the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, North Shore Scenic Railroad, Duluth Art Institute, St. Louis County Historical Society, Duluth Playhouse, Minnesota Ballet and Arrowhead Chorale. The ultimate goal is to ensure the Depot remains a vibrant and sustainable facility in downtown Duluth
“Mary really impressed us with her diverse skill set and servant leadership approach,” said County Board Chair Patrick Boyle, who has been part of the team that’s been examining Depot operations and looking for new solutions for nearly a year and a half. “She has strong business experience, plus an education background in art history and volunteer experience in the arts community. We were looking for someone who could enhance the successes of the Depot tenants and build vibrancy for the entire organization as we move forward, and Mary has a strong vision on how to achieve that.”
“I’m particularly excited to work with the various community organizations housed within the Depot and amplify their work to an even greater extent,” said Tennis. “I would love to increase visitor attendance, introduce new exhibits, and add more creature comforts to an already breathtaking, engaging facility.”
The Depot has been a landmark facility in St. Louis County for more than 125 years, and is.listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It had been slated for demolition in the early 1970s until a group of citizens worked to save it and turn it into a center for arts, culture and history. In support of that vision, St.Louis County took ownership of the building in 1972. The County’s top bonding request for the 2020 legislative session is expected to is expected to be for funds to preserve and maintain the historic building and build out its train exhibit to accommodate a large model train and vintage luxury rail cars.