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Columbia Union Station — Columbia, South Carolina

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Columbia Union Station

Union Station in Columbia was built in 1902 and was originally the home of the Southern Railway and Atlantic Coast line. The station was designed by prominent Southeastern architect, Frank P. Milburn. The Jacobethan Revival architecture of the station’s stepped gables, chimneys, brick, and stone are all inspired by English Manor House designs. Some of Milburn’s projects in South Carolina include the Anderson County Courthouse, the O’Donnell House in Sumter, and perhaps most notably the South Carolina State House, also in Columbia.

Columbia, SC Union Station

Ann Helms of Spartanburg, 2009 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Due to reduced rail traffic in the 1950s, the station sat empty with a section used for the Southern Railway for some time. The station has since been converted into a California Dreaming restaurant. Even though the Southern Railway and Atlantic Coast line no longer operate here, the CSX and Norfolk Southern trains still pass by on the tracks near the south side of the building.

Columbia UNion Station with Train

Joseph C. Hinson of Columbia, 2008 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Union Station is listed on the National Register:

(Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Southern Railway Station) Designed by Frank P. Milburn, a prominent Southeastern architect, the ca. 1902 Union Station is an excellent example of turn of the century eclectic architecture. Inspired by English Manor House designs of the sixteenth century, the stepped gables, the combination of brick and stone, and the towering chimneys place the building within the mainstream of Jacobethan Revival architecture in America. Milburn’s specialty was large public buildings. He also designed railway stations for New Orleans, Atlanta, Savannah and Knoxville. Milburn’s architectural credo was the progressive cry of his day – to erect “artistic as well as durable buildings.” He insisted upon using only materials of the highest quality and accepted only the finest workmanship. The attention given to decorative details in Union Station, such as the carved wooden brackets, the oriental inspired ironwork, and the acanthus capitals, displays Milburn’s emphasis on quality of design and materials. Without sacrificing design or proportion, Milburn created a functional structure for railroad travel at the beginning of the twentieth century. The building was open to the public on January 14, 1902

Columbia Union Station Info

Address: 401 South Main Street, Columbia, SC 29201
GPS Coordinates: 33.990673,-81.029292

Columbia Union Station Map

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4 Comments about Columbia Union Station

Ron Sheppard says:
June 9th, 2014 at 12:01 pm

There was a two lane bridge by Union Station that crossed over the tracks on Assembly Street. This bridge was torn down probably in the 60s. I have been trying to find a picture of this bridge for years. Can anyone help me? Email to

Ron Varner says:
February 24th, 2014 at 10:37 pm

My father was a conductorfor Southern Railway. As an 8/9 year old, I rode many times to Columbia from Charleston on passenger train 27/28. Recently I was in arestaurant and realized this was the old Union Station. Brought back a flood of great memories.

Joe Hinson says:
January 15th, 2013 at 11:35 am

Norfolk Southern (formerly Southern) trains pass on the tracks directly beside the building. CSX passes further down Assembly on the former ACL. ACL passenger trains would have had to get on the Southern tracks back in the day.

maurice english says:
November 28th, 2010 at 1:28 am

September 1951, along with 3 other US Air Force volunteers, I left union station on the way to Atlanta to make connections to go west to Texas. Although it was segregated, we were treated with respect.


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