03/11/08 — Depot work advances

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Depot work advances

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on March 11, 2008 1:57 PM

With initial preparations completed, the real work on the old Union Station downtown has begun.

Architect David E. Gall, who is overseeing the planning for the project, said he is excited about the transformation he expects to see in the landmark structure on Carolina Street, but he quickly noted that there is much work still to be done before actual restoration work can begin.

At present, there is no target date for completion of the restoration of the former passenger railroad hub, but Gall said he hopes the design work can move forward quickly. Stabilizing the building comes next, then renovation and restoration.

The nearly century-old structure hasn't been used in 50 years. It might not look much different to passersby despite the preliminary work that has been done. But that will soon change, Gall said. Some surrounding buildings have been torn down and the station itself has been cleaned and measured for design plans, which have been drawn and approved. While planning goes on, workers are continuing to find out more about the building. Every day brings a new discovery, Gall said.

"The details we have found during our assessment of the station continue to both educate and delight us from an historic preservation standpoint," he said. "It is a jewel for the City of Goldsboro. It just needs some polishing."

For example, he said, workers found beneath the boarded-over windows the original window frames, which were in surprisingly good shape.

"The windows have been found to be in good condition and can be saved and reused with some careful rehabilitation work," Gall said.

Workers can see the original sashes on the second floor windows and a starburst mullion pattern on the attic windows, he noted. In a few weeks, the windows will be covered up again to protect them from the weather until full rehabilitation of the building gets started.

And there have been other surprises.

When workers removed some newer structures adjacent to the station they uncovered another piece of history - the original rail platform sidewalk constructed in 1909.

"And it's still largely intact," Gall said.

So far, eight outbuildings have been demolished, and the remaining four will be torn down by a state Department of Transportation contractor in April, said Craig Newton, senior project engineer with the NCDOT Rail Division.

Asbestos abatement should also be completed by April, Newton added. Stabilization of the building will follow, a project that Newton hopes to see completed by the end of the year.

The project will involve not only the restoration of the original woodwork, but the installation of new electrical, heating, air-conditioning and plumbing as well.

The building will be handicap accessible as well, complete with an elevator.

Despite the modernizing improvements, Gall said he hopes to bring back the full historical feel of the building.

Initial project costs are estimated at $1 million by state and city officials. The state has already spent more than $40,000 for professional services, including those performed by Gall as well as Simpson Engineers & Associates of Cary, the lead design firm for the project.

The city of Goldsboro has agreed to pay 10 percent of all project costs.