Hill Union Station

About Hill Union Station

Postcard of Columbia Union StationThe Depot building as it stands, is in better than new condition. It now has been rewired, plumbed,  has a sprinkler system, all new bathroom fixtures, new period lighting fixtures, along with heating and cooling systems! All of the base marble and the bathroom marble dividers have been replaced. The building was also 100% plastered. All this work was done because of previous neglect, and destruction. Five original window frames were bought back from the Columbia Flea Market after stumbling across them on an online classified ad while researching the station. They were purchased, re-glazed, with period glass, as was all interior glass. The building is now ready for its next 100 years!

The Depot “Union Station” was officially opened on November 13th 1903. The first train headed to Mt. Pleasant @ 1:00 p.m.

Many notable people passed through the Depot, including President William Howard Taft, General John Pershing, Buffalo Bill, evangelist Billy Sunday, and Williams Jennings Bryan, a Nebraska congressman, and three time Presidential candidate.

The Depot was used for passenger travel up until December 1966, Freight was moved on the lines until 1982.

The Depot was then first sold into private hands in 1986. It was later transferred to a couple of the other owners, with attempts at the Monumental task of Restoration.

The Depot played a tremendous role in bringing economic growth to Columbia; perhaps it can help bring people back to Columbia to see the importance of “Preserving the Past”!

Hill Union Station Timeline

The Ordinance for construction of the Train Depot was completed. View the document below the timeline.
The Depot “Union Station” was officially opened on November 13th 1903. The first train headed to Mt. Pleasant at 1:00 p.m.   Construction for the structure was completed in 1905.

The Depot was used for passenger travel up until December 1966. For more detailed information view the news article The Columbia Depot Was Once Center of Activity.

Freight was moved on the lines until 1982. In 1982 the depot was purchased by Seaboard Coast Line Rail Road Company and was then sold to John (Buddy) Morgan according to the article: Gillhams Plan to Buy Old Columbia Depot.  
The Depot was then first sold into private hands in 1986. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Maury County, Tennessee on October 23, 1986. Official link to National Register of Historic Places listing information on the Depot: https://npgallery.nps.gov/AssetDetail/76cf177f-89d6-483b-9ab0-e0a3e2e78fe0
Restoration is underway by restorer Fred Karmie. Karmie spoke to the Columbia Herald and is featured in the article: Restorer Takes His Time, Loves His Work
The station was purchased by Kelli Gillham as a Birthday gift for her husband Fred Gillham. The Gillhams puchased the station from J.A. (Peggy) Morgan, wife of the late Buddy Morgan who had been the Columbia city Mayor. From the article Gillhams Plan to Buy Old Columbia Depot: Fred Gillham said he has no immediate plans for the station; however, he would like to see train cars and possibly a museum housed in the station. “I would like to see a restaurant in half of the station and a museum in the other half,” Gillham said.
In 2008 Columbia Station LLC were the new owners seeking to restore the station. “If all goes well, we expect to have the restoration process complete within six to eight months,” said Jerry Hodges of Sliding Rock Management, the Columbia firm that is serving as the design/builder for the project. View the news article Depot to be Restored for more details.
David and Debra Hill purchased the Columbia Union Station and start renovations. Read more in the article: New Life Planned for Century Old Train Depot

David and Debra Hill open the building to public viewing during a Christmas historic home tour in Columbia, TN. The tour helped raise funds towards restoration of the Atheneum, another historical landmark in Columbia. This is the second time the union station was opened up to visitors after renovations started. Seen on Scene: Historic Home Tour, Columbia Depot


On Monday, July 22, 2019 the City of Columbia held a Historical Marker Dedication Ceremony to recognize the Union Station Train Depot.

Union Station Train Depot historical marker dedication. Pictured left to right: Tony Massey, Mike Greene, Steve Boshers, Mayor Chaz Molder with the owners of the Depot: Brent, Debra and David Hill.

The text on the marker covers the front and back and reads:

“Columbia’s Union Station Train Depot was built in 1902 by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and opened in November 1903. Designed in a vernacular Romanesque style, it is one of the city’s most imposing landmarks. The two-story brick and stone structure was built with a highly decorated interior that featured paneled oak wainscoting, molded chair rails, paneled beam ceilings embellished with plaster rosettes, ornamental window surrounds, decorative tile floors with Greek key borders, and marble baseboards. This, Columbia’s third depot, was built at a cost of $200,000. In the early 20th century during its heyday, the Union Station Train Depot was the center of passenger travel as well as freight and mail shipping. It serviced both steam and diesel-powered locomotives. It was the embarkation point for soldiers heading to war, and visitors included President William Howard Taft, General John Pershing, and Buffalo Bill. The last passenger train left Columbia’s Union Station on December 7, 1954. The depot was sold by the railroad in 1986 into private ownership.”


The Daily Herald features an article describing the event, to read more from that go to: Marker honors historic Union Station Train Depot

The City of Columbia’s Tourism and Marketing Director, Kellye Murphy, created a commemorative poster attendees of the event where able to take with them, click below to see a digital version.


The Ordinance for construction of the Train Depot.



An Ordinance to regulate the movements of passenger trains across High Street, and to limit the time such trains shall be allowed to stand upon, or obstruct passage along said street, and, repeal an ordinance passed December 31, 1886, Entitled an Ordinance to prevent railroads from obstructing the streets, so far as the same conflicts with this Ordinance.


WHEREAS, The Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company, lessee of the Nashville and Decatur Railroad, proposes to construct on its property at the junction of High Street and the line of said railroad, west of said street, and immediately north of the tracks of said road, a new and commodious passenger depot, for the convenience and comfort of the public; and

WHEREAS, In order to receive and deliver passengers and baggage and express matter at said proposed depot, it will be necessary to temporarily obstruct said street with the trains of said railroad; and

WHEREAS, The construction of said depot is a matter greatly to be desired. Therefore be it Ordained by the Board of Mayor and Alderman of the city of Columbia:

SECTION l. That all passenger trains hauling or delivering passengers, baggage and express matter to and at said proposed depot, or whilst receiving passengers, baggage and express matter thereat. shall be allowed to occupy High street with their cars and engines for a reasonable length of time while so engaged, but not to exceed ten minutes at any one time.

SEC. 2. Be it further ordained, that if those in charge of said trains shall allow the same to remain upon said street an unreasonable time when not engaged as specified in section one of this ordinance, or exceeding ten minutes, they shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than five dollars nor more than fifty dollars for each offense.

SEC. 3. Be it further ordained, that so much of an ordinance passed December 31st, 1886, entitled “An ordinance to prevent railroads from obstructing the free passage of streets” as conflicts with the provisions of this ordinance be repealed.

SEC. 4. Be it further ordained that this ordinance take effect from and after its passage, the welfare of the city requiring it.

Passed and approved May 3rd, 1900.

W.D. CAMERON, Mayor.

Attest: E.E. ER WIN, Recorder.


HillHistoricProperties.com exists to showcase the rich architecture and history in Columbia, Tennessee through highlighting properties owned by David and Debra Hill. Each property has gone through extensive preservation and restoration to become timeless landmarks of the community. Mr. and Mrs. Hill were presented with the Association of the Preservation of Tennessee Antiques (APTA) Virginia Alexander Volunteer of the Year Award in 2019 for their historic preservation efforts in Maury County.