04/28/08 — Facelift continues on depot downtown

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Facelift continues on depot downtown

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on April 28, 2008 1:46 PM

More than eight months since Mayor Al King announced that Goldsboro's Union Station would undergo rehabilitation to its former glory as a working passenger rail service center, the work on the frame of the historic structure is continuing to progress.

Since the start of the project, the station has been cleaned out, design plans have been drawn and approved and several outbuildings that weren't of historical value have been demolished. An asbestos abatement has also recently been completed both on the inside and outside of the station, and some standing water that was in the building has been removed.

Project architect David Gall said he is excited about the next phase and is hopeful he will find more surprises, like the original doorknob or original wood windows that he discovered during initial explorations of the building.

"With the asbestos and standing water removed, we are looking forward to exploring some nooks and crannies we haven't seen before during our next visit to Union Station," he said.

The next step is stabilization and further demolition of parts of the building that aren't historical. Right now, the project team, led by Simpson Engineers and Associates out of Cary, is preparing drawings and specifications for both, and the work is expected to begin in early summer.

"This work will make the station more secure and watertight while drawings are developed for a future rehabilitation project," Gall said.

And one more expert will become part of the crew to help preserve as much of the historical elements of the building as possible.

A conservator will soon be on site to analyze and identify the original paint colors and other historic materials.

Gall said that the report the conservator gives will be used "to guide the restoration of the station to as close to its original 1909 appearance as is practical."

Of course, the original terrazzo floors, clay tiles and the like will be kept, but the building needs modern improvements as well. Heating, air conditioning, electrical and plumbing replacements and upgrades are planned for the building, but those will likely be concealed under the floor to keep the historic feel of the structure.

The building will also be handicap accessible complete with an elevator.

Rehabilitation of the building, when crews will actually do most of the reconstruction and aesthetic work, is still more than a year off, Gall said.

The entire process of repairing and restoring such an old building, and a piece of Goldsboro's history, will simply take time.

"We want to make sure that the construction people fully know what needs to be protected -- all the historical fabric needs protected -- and what needs to be added," Gall said. "And do as little damage as possible to the historical building when things are added."

The state and the city agreed on a preliminary total budget of $1 million for the initial work, and expected that the project would take between three and five years to complete.