A new cycle hub at Salisbury Station has been launched. It’s the first part of forecourt improvements that SWR is funding with money from their customer and community improvement fund. Representatives from SWR, Wiltshire Council and Co Bikes were on hand to open the facility.
Stepping off a train onto ornate original tiles, imagine a busy day in 1911 when those same tiles were teeming with travelers hoping on and off up to 44 trains a day.
Built in 1908
During its peak in 1911, the station served 44 trains a day. It was a center of economic power for the city and its residents. Today, it is a historic train station and an event center. The beautiful brick and ceramic tile building was designed by Frank P. Milburn in the Spanish Mission style. It’s a reminder of the time when trains were more than just a means to travel.
The station is home to the Crescent, Carolinian and Piedmont Amtrak passenger trains, Studio 35, a creative studio, and office space for Historic Salisbury Foundation. It also has a large trellised garden, perfect for weddings.
In addition to the two ticket windows, there are four doors that lead into the Grand Waiting Room. This spacious area was once used by passengers to board and disembark from the three different trains. Before Amtrak took over, the station had transfer service for trains going to New York and Atlanta.
Another interesting feature of the station is its ice house. It was built in 1873 and is one of the oldest commercial buildings in downtown Salisbury. Originally, the two-and-a-half story brick building was home to Littmann and Lichtenstein Dry Goods. It was later the home of a drugstore. The building was later modernized with aluminum siding. The ice house was the main source of refrigeration in downtown Salisbury until it closed in 1940. The large blocks of ice were sold to local citizens who stored them in their iceboxes.
Designed by Frank P. Milburn
During the first fifteen years of his practice, Milburn designed nineteen railroad stations (including Union Station in Durham), twenty-six county courthouses, nine college buildings (including thirteen halls at The University of North Carolina), and numerous commercial, public, and residential structures. He built a reputation for eclecticism, and his work blended Romanesque and Italianate influences with a Spanish flavor. However, after 1909 he began to employ Heister’s ideas on building composition, and his work became more coherent and forceful.
The train station design reflects the Spanish Mission style in brick and ceramic tile. Its two-course water table divides the dark red brick base from the tan brick body, and a Spanish tile roof is topped by a three-and-a-half story tower ornamented with projecting gargoyles.
Its interior features oak seats and high ceilings, and it could accommodate 100 passengers. A waiting room, dining room, and lunch stand complemented the station. In 1984 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
After your train ride, walk a couple blocks down Depot Street and stop at the visitors bureau to pick up a brochure for the two-mile Heritage Walking Tour. This self-guided tour highlights the town’s impressive architecture, which was built during the decades after the Civil War when the railroad stimulated the economy. Then head to 204 East Innes Street for a light snack at Hive and Co. Owner Michelle Pentoney is on a mission to highlight local makers and offers a wide range of gifts and home goods, from beeswax candles to all-natural cleaning products.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976
During its peak in 1908, the Historic Salisbury Station was a vital hub for Rowan County and drew business and tourists to the area. Locals called it “the prettiest of all train stations between Washington and Atlanta.” In the years that followed, however, passenger rail travel declined, and the building was neglected. Fortunately, the town of Salisbury has a good record of historic preservation and worked to save the railway station.
Today, the building still serves as an Amtrak passenger terminal, but it’s also open for events and filming. Originally designed by architect Frank P. Milburn in the Spanish mission style, the station is a remarkable structure that spans two city blocks and has a two-course water table dividing the dark red brick base from the tan brick body of the building, a Spanish tile roof and a dominating central three and one-half-story tower ornamented with projecting gargoyles.
For lunch, head down the street from the station to Sidewalk Deli on Main Street. The deli’s meatloaf sandwich is the perfect lunch choice for a day of walking around downtown Salisbury. After a bite, walk up Main less than a block to Hive and Co, a shop that highlights hundreds of local makers with a passion for handmade and natural products. They’ll wrap your purchases in travel-friendly packaging for you.
Restored in 1984
The train station was in danger of being demolished until Historic Salisbury Foundation bought it in 1984. The foundation spent over 3.1 million dollars to restore the building, which was completed in three phases. The first phase opened four office spaces in 1990, the second phase opened the grand waiting room and special events spaces in 1993, and the third phase was completed for additional office space in 1996. NCDOT contributed over $1 million in federal enhancement funds to help the foundation complete its renovation of the main building.
When the station was built in 1908, it was designed by Frank Milburn in the Spanish Mission style. This building served as the heart of the rail traffic in Salisbury until the rise of automobiles. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and became a landmark in the city.
In the 90’s, the fire department shifted from its old system of dispatching to the 800 MHz trunked radio systems. The department also developed a hazardous materials team in partnership with Rowan County. This team responds to any chemical, biological, or radiological incident in Salisbury.
The house was given to the town of Spencer in 2017. The building has an undistinguished exterior thanks to composite siding that was put on in the ’50s or ’60s. Nevertheless, the interior of this two-story frame house is largely intact. It will be open to the public for OctoberTour this year.