Building Preservation in Maine



Union Station, Portland Maine courtesy Wikimedia commons


In the 1950s I took the train from Portland’s UnionRailroad  Station to college in Western Massachusetts. Built in 1888 in the style of a French châteaux, the station was a city landmark with its 188 foot clock tower. The building’s Victorian elegance created a dignified beginning to any journey.

After World War II, ships and trains gave way to trucks and planes. Train service to Portland Maine ended in 1960. In 1961 Union Station was torn down and replaced by a seedy strip mall. Enough angry people formed a nucleus to begin Portland’s historic preservation movement.

Train travel has returned to Maine via Amtrak, but today’s utilitarian terminal is no Union Station.

My father, Hans Pederson, was a prominent Seattle builder in early 20th century Seattle. Research has shown me that many of his buildings are still in use, thanks to the preservation efforts of such organizations as the Historic Seattle Foundation.

Before we rush to destroy our past, we should consider if the replacement will be an improvement..



6 responses

  1. In Pittsfield, MA the New York Central/Boston & Albany Station was very FANCY! There were huge stained glass windows, resplendent marble floors, shiny oak benches, and an extensive candy counter. The somber but friendly ticket sellers were behind iron grills and they smiled when I purchased a 35 cent ticket to Richmond Center. Richmond Summit and Richmond Furnace stations had recently closed in that town of 550! Glorious days of convenient train travel!

  2. The impressive structure is long gone, replaced by a nondescript “depot” similar to the one in Portland. Graciousness which it represented seems to have disappeared as well!

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