In the News

Marker honors historic Union Station Train Depot

By Jay Powell

The Daily Herald July, 22 2019

The city unveiled its newest historical marker Monday at the Union Station Train Depot, bringing attention to one of Columbia’s most beloved buildings, while also signifying Columbia’s future for tourism.

Built in 1902 by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad and opening in 1903, the Union Station Train Depot serviced both steam and diesel-powered locomotives during the early 20th century. As the third station built in Columbia, it was once the center for passenger travel, as well as freight and mail shipping.

The three-story train depot even had a few famous visitors over the years, including former U.S. President William Howard Taft, General John Pershing and Buffalo Bill. It stopped operations in 1954 and was later sold into private ownership in 1986.

In 2009, the depot was added to the Tennessee Preservation Trust’s “Ten in Tennessee” list of endangered properties. It underwent a significant renovation starting in 2013 after decades of uncertainty and dilapidation, now standing as one of the city’s crown jewels.

This historical marker dedication today helps us continue that appreciation of the past that we have as a community.

“This is an exciting day, and we talk a lot at city hall about how Columbia is a city with an eye toward its future, while also having an appreciation for its past. This historical marker dedication today helps us continue that appreciation of the past that we have as a community,” Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder said. “I’m particularly excited about this marker because we are in the City of Columbia Arts District, an area of town that we’ve really put a specific focus on over the last few years. I look at this building as sort of the beginning of that.”

Maury County Archives Director Tom Price shared about the depot’s history, describing it as “The first taste what Columbia was like” for visitors. It was also built at a time when Columbia was becoming a thriving community, with construction of the Maury County Courthouse, the Memorial Building and the train depot all happening within a five-year span.

“The Union Station Train Depot, I think, is one of the best examples of historic preservation in action in a community that’s really becoming so vibrant,” Price said. “If you consider what this building meant for the economics of Columbia, this is where everybody got their first taste of what Columbia was like. You could see trains of mules being shipped out to parts unknown, and there were lots of businesses along the railroad track here.”

Current owners David and Debra Hill on occasion open the train depot’s doors to the public, but have primarily used it as a museum warehouse storage space. It has also been featured as part of the city’s annual Historic Home Tour.

David Hill said he hopes to one day figure out a plan to have it serve as a local history museum, where guests can wander through on self-guided tours and gaze at the wide selection of antiques, portraits and artifacts, many of which depict and capture Maury County’s thriving past.

“I really want to thank the city for doing this,” Hill said. “This building has been here for over 112 years, and I believe it will be here for another 112 years, Lord willing, with the shape it’s in. With this sign here, I believe it will help tourism, help benefit the arts district. We love the community, and this shows at the heart that we’re trying to do the best for everyone here.”


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aBOUt 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.