Preservation Magazine, Summer 2020

Enjoying the Rail Life at Memphis' Rehabilitated Central Station

The exterior of Central Station.

photo by: VRX Studios

At the corner of Main Street and GE Patterson Avenue in downtown Memphis, a railway landmark has been rehabilitated, helping to rejuvenate the city’s historic South Main Arts District.

Opened as a train station and office building in 1914, the eight-story building was constructed by the Illinois Central Railroad. This past winter, a development group that includes Kemmons Wilson Companies, the Henry Turley Company, and Valor Hospitality Partners unveiled its conversion into the Central Station Hotel. Part of a mixed-use, $55 million adaptive reuse project, the building retains its original exterior. It also houses an Amtrak station that had to be able to operate without interruption during construction, which posed a hurdle for contractor Robins & Morton. “It’s kind of like changing the hubcap as the car is going down the interstate,” says David Green of Robins & Morton.

BGKT Architects incorporated the main level’s original concourse signs, which lend a cosmopolitan feel. The 123-room hotel, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, also takes guests on an auditory journey through Memphis’ musical history with its vinyl record collection, which contains more than 40,000 songs. Burnished metal details throughout the space recall Memphis’s history of metal craftsmanship, and all the artwork inside the property was made by artists living and working along Amtrak’s 900-mile City of New Orleans route.

By: Latria Graham

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