LAWRENCE, KAN., and WASHINGTON, D.C. – As May – National Historic Preservation Month – came to a close, local preservation organizations recognized projects at Amtrak-served stations in Lawrence, Kan., and Washington, D.C.
The not-for-profit Lawrence Preservation Alliance (LPA) gave Depot Redux and Lawrence Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard a Preservation Achievement Award for their collaboration to rehabilitate the Lawrence depot. Served daily by the Southwest Chief (Chicago-Albuquerque-Los Angeles), the 1956 brick passenger station is a prime example of mid-century modern architecture, which is characterized by clean lines and minimal ornamentation. The interior is remarkably intact, including terrazzo floors, streamlined furnishings and metal fittings.
In 2008, Lawrence resident Carey Maynard-Moody founded Depot Redux, a volunteer organization dedicated to preserving and rehabilitating the structure. As part of its advocacy, the group held clean-up days, arranged musical celebrations to greet arriving passengers and undertook an education campaign. Maynard-Moody shared the Lawrence story at a handful of Amtrak Civic Conversations, forums for community and state officials focused on building, preserving and upgrading stations across the Amtrak national network.
Presenting the award, LPA Board Chair Dennis Brown said, “[Back in 2008] a dozen core members of Depot Redux began working to shine a light on this forlorn and forgotten place…a key entry to Lawrence…was getting cleaned up and beginning to function again.”
Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard shepherded a multi-year negotiation between Lawrence and BNSF (also with input from Amtrak) that allows the city to take ownership of the property. This means that the city can proceed with a planned $1.7 million rehabilitation.
In addition, at the 2017 District of Columbia Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation ceremony held on May 23, the Main Hall Restoration Project at Washington Union Station was honored with the State Historic Preservation Officer’s Award. The Main Hall’s barrel-vaulted, coffered plaster ceiling was damaged during a rare 5.8 magnitude earthquake that shook the nation’s capital in August 2011. Over nearly three years, each of the room’s five bays received plaster repairs, fresh paint and new gold leaf. Above the ceiling, a new steel support system was installed for the plaster, along with improvements made to the ventilation system and worker maintenance access.
Two major changes were also made to the Main Hall’s layout: removal of the Center Café, which included a second level on a raised platform, and two fountains (later converted into landscaped planters). Both elements had been added during a 1980s rehabilitation and were not original to the station. The video below provides an overview of the Main Hall Restoration Project:
Work was overseen by the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC), a non-profit organization founded in 1983 and in part charged with preserving and restoring Union Station’s historic and architectural significance.