Seaboard Airline Railroad Passenger Station |
North Tryon St
The Seaboard Station, designed by C. C. Hook, opened on June 16, 1896. It is full of wondrous stories. Listen carefully! Can you hear the ghosts of the engineers, conductors, and brakemen jumping from the trains and walking slowly toward the dormitory on the second floor of the Seaboard Station to catch a few hours of jittery sleep? The overalls of these hard-boiled workmen are covered with splotches of oil, grime and soot. Perspiration drips from their bodies as clouds of scorching steam spew from the now-motionless engines parked behind them along the track.
Walk inside, and you’ll see the big open spaces that used to be the waiting rooms -- one for colored folks and one for whites. Kids scampered across the floor and jumped on their tiptoes to peer into the ticket window. Old ladies sat on scruffy benches and struggled to stay awake. Young lovers embraced in hopes that they could somehow push back the time when they would have to say good-bye. All sorts of people sat in the Seaboard Station or walked beneath its imposing passenger sheds.
One of the most memorable moments for the Seaboard Station occurred on May 2, 1898. A crowd of thousands lined both sides of Tryon Street from the Square and surged around the station itself to bid an emotional farewell to troops that were boarding trains and leaving for the Spanish American War. "Yards and houses were decorated with flags, and from thousands of throats went up cheer after cheer," wrote a reporter for the Charlotte Observer.
The last passenger train left the Seaboard Station on November 3, 1958. In 1988, the building was donated by the railroad to the Historic Landmarks Commission. In January, 1991, an electrical fire broke out in the building, but luckily the firemen got there in time to save the Seaboard Station. December 22, 1993, was a wonderful day. Several Uptown churches bought the station and began converting into a dining hall and counseling center for the homeless.