Union Station Celebrates a Fully Restored Main Hall
Historic space is now unobstructed as originally designed for the first time in more than 60 years
At an event on October 13 at Union Station in Washington, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC), will host a private reception for special guests and invited media to celebrate the station’s Main Hall and its restored splendor. Guests will hear from a roster of VIPs about the recently completed work and the history and significance of Union Station as a gateway to our nation’s capital.
“Washington’s Union Station holds a special place in our nation's history and in the hearts of so many who pass through this Beaux-Arts icon,” said Barry Lustig, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation executive vice president. “We salute and celebrate the brilliance and hard work of the team of stakeholders, architects, engineers, historians and mastercraftspeople who collaborated to realize this outstanding restoration. I, along with all the team members and stakeholders, realize Union Station’s success when we witness time and time again the amazement and wonderment in visitors’ eyes as they gaze upon Main Hall’s magnificent open expanse of marble and granite and glorious coffered ceiling.”
“We are proud to have been part of the team involved in returning the Main Hall to its grandeur and commend our partners on their stewardship of this true National Treasure,” said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Continued dedication to holistic, preservation-based planning for Union Station’s future will ensure it continues to thrive as a transportation hub, outstanding civic amenity, and grand gateway to the nation’s capital.”
“This celebration marks a milestone in the station’s history that we hope will make future generations proud. The Main Hall restoration is an effort we have been working to achieve for the past four years,” said USRC president and CEO, Beverley Swaim-Staley. “Painstaking research and attention to detail were essential to ensure this restoration was historically accurate. I hope the result is something the original station architect, Daniel Burnham would approve of.”
The multi-year rehabilitation effort has re-created a breathtaking space that is unlike any other interior in the nation’s capital. For the first time since the 1940s, the room is unobstructed, allowing the public to flow freely through what was the largest room ever built when it opened in 1907. The dramatic 92-foot coffered ceiling has also been fully restored, including the installation of an elaborate system of steel framing to provide a completely new and seismically sound support structure for the historic plaster ceiling. The entire ceiling bay was repainted and 120,000 sheets of new 23-karat-gold leafing applied, thanks in part to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a grant from American Express.
UNION STATION CELEBRATION EVENT- October 13, 5:30 p.m – 7:15 p.m. EST
Media is invited to attend the celebration event to behold the restored ceiling and the unobstructed Main Hall and to enjoy a sneak peek at two new exhibits chronicling the history of Union Station. One is an Augmented Reality exhibit that uses touch-screen tablets and physical props to illustrate seminal moments in the landmark's history--such as the 1953 Federal Express train crash. The other is a self-guided exhibit of historic photographs focusing on the storied history of Main Hall from the early years through mid-century, demise and revitalization and the recent restoration.
The exhibits will be open to the public for 30 days following the event.
Media are asked to RSVP to ANDY GRABEL, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF PUBLC AFFAIRS, 828.450.0507, AGRABEL@SAVINGPLACES.ORG.
Background on Union Station
Visited by more than 37 million people each year, Union Station serves as an internationally renowned gateway to the nation’s capital, a popular tourist destination, and a major transportation hub. Designed by Daniel Burnham and completed in 1907, Union Station is a nationally significant architectural icon that enabled the creation of the National Mall and set the standard for monumental Washington as we know it today. The historic Main Hall has undergone many changes over the years as the station’s popularity ebbed and flowed. The onset of World War II resulted in increased traffic at the station, prompting the installation of ticket counters in the Main Hall and disrupting the original floor plan. In the 1970s, as train travel declined, some members of Congress called for demolishing Union Station. A National Visitor Center was created in the space, including a sunken wall of slide show monitors that flashed scenes of Washington, further compromising the original design and ultimately failing to energize the space. The visitor center closed in 1979, followed by the station in 1985. Shortly after, a public-private partnership funded a $160 million renovation.
In 1988, the station was re-opened. A Center Café prominently positioned in the Main Hall and additional retail in what was the historic train concourse helped draw new economic activity, yet further obstructed the architect’s intent for the space. The 2011 earthquake inflicted damage to the Main Hall’s ceiling, prompting a collaboration among station stakeholders and historic agencies to plan for the Main Hall’s preservation and Union Station’s modernization.
In 2012, the National Trust named Union Station to its portfolio of National Treasures, highly-significant historic places throughout the country where the National Trust makes a long-term commitment to finding a preservation solution. For more than a decade American Express has partnered with the National Trust to preserve and protect America’s cultural and historic places, supporting preservation projects like that at Union Station and across the country. Since 2012, they have been the Presenting Partner of the Trust's National Treasures program, helping to save dozens of nationally important places and providing preservation grants to historic sites.
About Ashkenazy Acquisition
Headquartered in New York City, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation is a private real estate investment firm focusing on retail and office assets. Ashkenazy Acquisition has acquired over 15 million square feet of retail, hospitality, office and residential properties, located throughout the United States, Canada and England. www.aacrealty.com
About the Union Station Reinvestment Corporation
Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) was established in 1983 as a non-profit organization charged with overseeing Washington Union Station’s restoration and renaissance as a multi-modal transportation center and a retail/entertainment center while preserving its significant historic character. www.usrcdc.com