A look inside of Louisville's historic Union Station

A look inside Union Station

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS 11)--About a month ago GMK’s Juliana Valencia and Meteorologist T.G. Shuck asked you on Facebook about the historic places in Louisville everyone should know about.

One place some of you told them about is this building on West Broadway and 10th street which used to be known as Union Station.

Union Station is the home of TARC'S administration offices, but for decades the exterior doors welcomed nearly everyone who came to Louisville.

Union Station was the place for both the wealthy and poor. Immigrants looking for a new life. The rich and famous arriving by private train during Derby.

In 1938 President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived in Louisville. In 1948 A crowd of 35,000 greeted President Harry S. Truman as he pulled into Union Station. President Dwight D. Eisenhower also made a stop here in 1952.


TARC Executive Director Barry Barker says the history and architecture of the building can fill you with awe.

“It defines an era that was Louisville,” Barker said.

Union station cost more than 300-hundred thousand dollars to build in 1891. Louisville contractors did almost all of the work.

TARC Capital Projects Administrator Geoff Hobin says the materials to build it were largely locally sourced. The limestone quarried in Bowling Green, KY. The trim is Bedford stone.

This original mule-drawn trolley is one of only left in the U.S. the other is in the Smithsonian.

The original clock in the outside tower burned in 1905. Pieces of the one that replaced it make up the clock inside. A widow of an L&N employee found them in her basement.

Hobin says it's cost more than $10-million to keep the building's locomotive history alive. TARC has restored the exterior doors, vaulted ceilings, stained glass skylights, clocks and other features.

“It’s an expensive undertaking, but it’s one we take very seriously. It’s one we are proud to accomplish but it stretches our resources,” Hobin said.

At the same time, the restorations help improve utility costs.

The last Amtrak train left Louisville for Nashville on October 31 of 1976. But, for almost one hundred years this was the place to go to travel in and out of Louisville.

It still has a purpose for TARC Executive Director Barry Barker.

“There are days I walk in and you know the weight of the world is on me, everything's grumpy, and then I will sort of stop look around and go wow this is spectacular,” Barker said.

TARC secured a federal grant to purchase Union Station in 1974. If you want to check it out you can visit for free during business hours.

There also options to hold meetings there. For more information click here .

The older photos or clippings of Union Station are from the Courier-Journal or the Digital Collections, Archives & Special Collections, UofL specifically the Caufield & Shook Collection, Photographic Archives.

To see more of the collection and search for others click here.

People can search the Digital Collections at UofL from any PC by going to Digital.library.louisville.edu and doing a keyword or advanced search. They continually upload new images as they are processed with added information to make them discoverable.

Juliana and T.G. want to hear from you about the places in Kenuckiana you think they should visit for future stories.

Share your thoughts on the WHAS 11 Facebook pages or you can always send a message to either of them on our Facebook pages.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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