Savannah Union Station

From: Library of Congress

Savannah's 1902 Union Station stood on West Broad Street (renamed Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in 1990) about four short blocks south of the Central of Georgia passenger depot. It was built by the Savannah Union Station Company, which was owned jointly and equally by Southern Railway, the Plant System, and Seaboard Air-Line Railway.

From: Library of Congress

From: Seaboard Air Line Railway Shippers Guide, 1914. Online at Internet Archive.

The building was designed by Frank P. Milburn, who also designed Augusta's Union Station, as well as several courthouses in Georgia. Milburn had to work with a somewhat difficult site on which the tracks would approach West Broad Street at a 45-degree angle. Rather than having the front similarly angled to the street, he chose to shape the building to fit the site. The result was a rhomboidal structure that placed the front facade along the sidewalk while skewing the sides to run parallel to the tracks.

Below is a drawing from a book of Milburn designs (online at Internet Archive here) that shows the building sitting perpendicular to the street. While it was not actually constructed in this manner, it did incorporate the same general appearance.

The station was not actually built in the configuration shown above.

This plan view shows the station as constructed. (From 1916 Sanborn map online at Digital Library of Georgia.)

Savannah Union Station, view showing train shed

A photo of the station as constructed. (From Savannah. [Savannah, Ga., 1904]. Online at HathiTrust Digital Library here.)

 

 

Union Station was demolished in 1962 to make way for I-16 exit ramps. Long regretting the huge gash in the historic streetscape that resulted, Savannahians have recently moved to replace the ramps with a more appropriately scaled redevelopment. A July 2012 report, available from the local planning commission, summarizes the effort and provides an excellent visual and contextual history of the neighborhood. (Reclaiming Old West Broad Street: The I-16 Exit Ramp Removal Study can be downloaded from www.thempc.org. The full report is nearly 200 MB, but its chapters can be downloaded individually.)

Suggested Reading:

Ruben A. Acosta. Savannah's Union Station: Architecture and the Gateway in the South. Masters thesis, 2010-11. Online at Savannah College of Art and Design Digital Collections.


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