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Union Station

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1929–1930, E. M. Tucker. 101 W. Front St.

For years plans foundered for a depot commensurate with Texarkana’s status as a major railroad hub until the formation of the Texarkana Union Trust, consisting of the four railways involved: the Missouri Pacific, the Cotton Belt, the Texas and Pacific, and the Kansas City Southern. The station straddles State Line Avenue, ending debate over which state would claim the new depot. The huge steel and concrete structure, built by contractor A. B. Butterworth, is faced with light brown brick and consists of a large three-story central block flanked by long wings stretching along the tracks and tapering from three stories to two. The central block is dramatized, illuminated, and ventilated by three huge arched windows, composed of small casement windows, which are still operable. Pilasters with Corinthian capitals bracket these windows, rising to a limestone entablature, and an elaborate cartouche, which once held the station clock, is centered in the plain parapet. At ground level two sets of double doors are sheltered by a metal canopy incised with classical motifs. Tan terra-cotta floors and glazed brick walls with bands of terra-cotta ornament decorate the interior, which featured a ladies “rest room” and a ladies “retiring room” as well. African American passengers, of course, had separate waiting rooms, restrooms, and water fountains. Vacant since 1968 and the site of at least two failed business ventures, the structure has been remarkably well maintained through private efforts and patiently awaits an appropriate large-scale adaptive reuse. The silence of the great waiting room is eerie when contrasted with the nonstop roaring freight train traffic on the twenty-six adjacent tracks.

For fifty years the depot, stretching across the lower end of State Line Avenue, was a grand visual anchor for downtown Texarkana. Passengers descending the long staircase to the sidewalk could look northward up State Line Avenue to another neoclassical landmark, the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse (MI1). But the 1980 construction of the huge, L-shaped four-story Bi-State Criminal Justice Center a block away at 100 N. State Line Avenue, brashly out-of-scale with the traditional Texarkana streetscape, now dwarfs the depot and cuts off its view up State Line Avenue.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors
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Citation

Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors, "Union Station", [Texarkana, Arkansas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/AR-01-MI2.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Arkansas

Buildings of Arkansas, Cyrus A. Sutherland and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018, 182-183.

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