09/23/07 — Architect plans to preserve history of old city train depot

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Architect plans to preserve history of old city train depot

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on September 23, 2007 2:12 AM

As architect David Gall walked around Union Station in his yellow hard hat and boots this week, a few pieces of the antique building caught his eye.

They weren't items that most people would get excited over -- clay tiles and terrazzo floors -- but to Gall, they meant history.

"We found what we believe is an original doorknob," he said. "It's just so ornate."

These pieces of the original design were still in and on the building, preserved from years and years of no one using the once bustling depot.

From Monday to Wednesday, Gall and his crew, who work in conjunction with Simpson Engineering in Cary, staked out the station to start the process of forming a design plan.

"Goldsboro's going to have a prime project," Gall said. "We are trying to make sure we have as many historical fabrics in the building as possible."

In many old buildings, he said, original design elements are hard to come by, but the train station has plenty.

And that makes his job easier.

"There is some original detail and some of what we think is the original paint is still there," Gall said.

His vision includes removing the gray paint on the front of the building, rehabilitating the old windows, using samples of old doors to create new ones, cleaning and keeping the terrazzo floors and replacing the current roof with the former clay tile roof.

"We actually found some of the clay tiles stored in the attic," he said.

Modern additions will have to be made, too.

Heating, air conditioning, electrical and plumbing replacements and upgrades are planned for the building, Gall said, but architects will try to keep them concealed -- under the floor to keep historic feel of the structure.

"We are going to make it handicap accessible as well," he said. "And we are probably going to be adding an elevator."

But for right now, Gall and his crew are working on the stabilization and security of the building.

"We are just trying to get acquainted," he said.

They started by measuring for layout and elevation plans for existing conditions.

The verdict was a thumbs up.

"In our preliminary assessment, the building is in good condition for its age," Gall said. "The basic bones and structure are good."

On the south end, there was some bad damage that needs to be fixed to maintain stability, he added.

"It just looks like a forklift or something backed into the building," he said.

But, even full of dust and dirt, Gall can see the beauty in the close to century-old building.

"It's a very handsome building," he said.

Preliminary design plans should be completed in about six months, he added, and at that point, they can better gauge what the budget will be.

As he trudged through particles of glass and splintered wood, he had that same joyous look of discovery in his eyes.

"If you don't mind me saying, this is the jewel of Goldsboro," he said.

Gall is asking those who have any photographs of the building to take them to Julie Thompson at the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp.

"For most people it won't be so much that they have a picture of the building, but they may have a picture of 'Uncle Ed' with the building in the background," he said. "Even if it is just a fragment of the building, it will be helpful."