This brick, stone and glass Mid-Century Modern depot is the focus of a volunteer-led rehabilitation effort.
413 East 7th Street Lawrence, KS 66044
- Annual Station Revenue (2013)
- Annual Station Ridership (2013)
|Facility Ownership||BNSF Railway|
|Parking Lot Ownership||BNSF Railway|
|Platform Ownership||BNSF Railway|
|Track Ownership||BNSF Railway|
|15 Long Term Parking Spaces||4 Short Term Parking Spaces||Accessible Platform|
|Accessible Restrooms||Accessible Waiting Room||Dedicated Parking|
|Enclosed Waiting Area||Restrooms||Wheelchair Lift|
- Southwest Chief
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The one-story brick passenger station in Lawrence, erected by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, opened in 1956. It was built to replace a two-story brick depot from 1883 that was seriously damaged in the flood of 1951.
Designed by local architects Warren Jones and Warren Corman, the building is a prime example of Mid-Century Modern architecture, which is characterized by clean lines and minimal ornamentation. Typical features of the Mid-Century Modern aesthetic found in the Lawrence depot include a flat roof, panoramic corner windows, integrated planters, rusticated ashlar stone used for accents and trim, and the prominent use of neon.
The interior is remarkably intact, including terrazzo floors, streamlined furnishings and metal fittings. After World War II, in an attempt to modernize its image, the Santa Fe reinvested in a number of its stations; thus Lawrence shares in the design heritage of depots such as those in Topeka and Hutchison. Due to its design integrity, the Lawrence station has been declared eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
At the urging of Depot Redux, a volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation and rehabilitation of the station, the city is exploring ways to obtain ownership of the building from BNSF Railway. In June 2013, Lawrence won a $1.2 million Transportation Enhancement grant through the Federal Highway Administration. Under this program, funds can be used for activities related to the preservation of historic transportation facilities, including depots. The grant covers approximately 80 percent of the costs of a planned $1.5 million building restoration, and the city will need to provide the matching funds. Work will include installation of a new roof and heating, cooling and electrical systems, as well as repairs to stone and brickwork and the parking lot and sidewalks.
Under the Federal Railroad Administration’s High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program, Lawrence and the Kansas Department of Transportation won an $87,563 grant in 2010. The money was used to draft final construction drawings, completed in fall 2012, that will guide the station restoration project.
In the meantime, Amtrak has worked with the city and BNSF Railway to make improvements to the platform. Amtrak, state and local officials, along with Lawrence residents, gathered at the station in December 2011 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of a new 550 foot long, ADA compliant concrete platform with tactile edging. Work also included the installation of a railing and light standards along the platform and repairs to the canopy for increased safety and security. The $1.5 million project was funded by Amtrak through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The depot’s landmark neon signage was also restored, but reinterpreted for the 21st century. When the building first opened, the Santa Fe installed red neon signs spelling out its name and that of the town. Over time, they deteriorated and were in need of repair. Working closely with the city and the Kansas State Historic Preservation Office, new signs spelling out “Amtrak” and “Lawrence” were installed. Rather than use Santa Fe red, they were executed in blue neon since that is the primary color used in Amtrak’s branding.
Lawrence sits along the banks of both the Kansas and Wakarusa Rivers, and is the seat of Douglas County. Founded in 1854 for the New England Emigrant Aid Company by Charles Robinson, the city was named after Amos Adams Lawrence, a prominent politician, antislavery partisan and son of famed philanthropist Amos Lawrence.
The first locomotive crossed the Kansas River in 1867 on a temporary bridge, in order to receive railroad bonds in the new territory. However, the railroads did not open for business through Lawrence until late 1870, amidst intense competition between railroad companies for rights, land and financing. Lawrence has a legacy of progressive thoughts and works, both politically and culturally, dating back to anti-slavery fights before the end of the Civil War. It is known as the home to Kansas University (KU) and the inventor of basketball, James Naismith. KU and its Jayhawks have a long history of a strong basketball program; the team was the 2007 NCAA champion. Lawrence also features many museums and art galleries, as well as music festivals. Poet, author, and counterculture figure William S. Burroughs moved to Lawrence in 1983 and died there at age 83. Langston Hughes was born in Lawrence and his Kansas upbringing was evident in many of his writings.
Passengers may use the waiting room, which is opened and closed by a caretaker at train time. Additionally, volunteers from Depot Redux often greet travelers and provide assistance and train arrival notifications. Amtrak provides neither ticketing nor baggage handling at this facility, which is served by two daily trains.
Station photo by Chuck Hatler