Project highlights community ties, promotes economic development
The North Carolina Railroad Company (NCRR), in partnership with the City of Greensboro, the Preservation Greensboro Development Fund, and Downtown Greensboro, Inc., agreed to purchase one of Greensboro’s historic passenger train stations from Norfolk Southern Railway for its preservation and beneficial redevelopment.
The North Carolina Railroad plans a major restoration that will bring back the 123-year-old station’s original grandeur. The building is in a downtown district listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making it eligible for federal and state historic-preservation tax credits. The project illustrates NCRR’s priorities of economic development and community partnership.
“The North Carolina Railroad Company is proud to play a part in preserving and revitalizing this historic landmark,” said Carl Warren, NCRR’s president and CEO. “We’re always looking for opportunities for the railroad to improve the lives of the people of North Carolina.”
In 1899, Southern Railway built the Greensboro passenger station at 400 S. Elm Street in the heart of downtown Greensboro. The masonry structure featured granite hauled by railroad from Mt. Airy to the northwest. It included elaborately patterned brickwork, dormer windows topped with finials, a projecting canopy, a clay tile roof, and a prominent three-story turret overlooking Greensboro’s intersection of Elm Street and Smother’s Place.
The building served as a new railroad passenger station, replacing what is believed to have been Greensboro’s first train station. The recent restoration of Greensboro’s nearby 1895 Cascade Saloon drew focus to the former rail station’s potential.
Renovating the historic station will reinforce Greensboro’s status as the birthplace of the North Carolina Railroad under Gov. John Motley Morehead, who resided at Greensboro’s Blandwood Mansion. The city recognizes the importance of historic preservation as an economic driver.
“Preservation of structures that exist within our gateways should demonstrate the integrity of our community,” said Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan. “This structure sits in the middle of our vibrant downtown. With the tremendous leadership of the North Carolina Railroad, we have an opportunity to bring it back to its original luster, making it something we can all be proud of.”
Railroads, which arrived in Greensboro in the 1850s and helped it earn the moniker “Gate City,” generated significant business growth near the station. In fact, the economic spark the station lit eventually led to the need for a larger depot. It was replaced in 1927 with what is now known as the Galyon Depot on West Washington Street.
After the new depot opened, the building on S. Elm Street underwent a Neoclassical makeover and was used as office space by Southern Railway for many years, living up to the company’s motto, “Southern Railway Serves the South.” Norfolk Southern Railway, which succeeded Southern Railway in 1982, still uses the building for offices.
Thanks to this exceptional, civic-minded partnership, the historic building will once again provide a new gateway to Greensboro’s growth and prosperity.