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President Street Station
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
President Street Station during the Civil War
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Coordinates: 39°17′4″N 76°36′9″W / 39.28444°N 76.6025°W / 39.28444; -76.6025Coordinates: 39°17′4″N 76°36′9″W / 39.28444°N 76.6025°W / 39.28444; -76.6025
Built/Founded: 1850
Added to NRHP: 1992
NRHP Reference#: 92001229
Back of the Baltimore Civil War Museum, 2008

The President Street Station in Baltimore, Maryland is a former train station. Built in 1850, it is the oldest surviving big city railroad terminal in the United States.[1] The station was an important rail transportation link during the Civil War and is now home to the Baltimore Civil War Museum.

History

The station was built in 1850 by the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad (PW&B) as their Baltimore terminus.[2] In addition to the brick head house, the original station also had a long barrel vaulted train shed over the tracks.[3] A track ran along Pratt Street to connect PW&B trains arriving from Philadelphia with Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) trains at Camden Station to Washington, D.C..

The station was involved in the Baltimore riot of 1861, when Massachusetts troops bound for Washington, D.C., were marching to the B&O's Camden Station ten blocks west and were attacked by an angry mob of Southern sympathizers, with several people killed and the ensuing melee.[4][3][5]

President Street station was largely replaced in 1873 by Pennsylvania Station, but continued to have some passenger train usage until 1911.[6] It was later used as a freight station and then as a warehouse, although the train shed was destroyed by fire, leaving only the present head house by 1970, when it was abandoned.[3] The derelict building was acquired by the City of Baltimore in 1979 for a proposed extension of Interstate 83, which was never built.[3]

As a museum

The vacant station was restored in the 1990s, funded by a public-private partnership, and reopened in 1997 as the Baltimore Civil War Museum.[1][3] The museum closed in 2007 has since re-opened on a part-time basis with limited weekend hours, operated by the Maryland Historical Society and, more recently, by volunteers from a group of interested museum supporters, the Friends of President Street Station.[4][7][8]

The future of the historic property is uncertain: the City of Baltimore announced plans in 2009 to designate the old depot as a landmark, which would restrict modifications to the building's exterior. But plans by the city to advertise a request for proposals (RFP) in 2009 for commercial development of the grounds are opposed by the Friends of the President Street Station group. They have called instead for the station's preservation and management as a museum by the National Park Service.[9] The director of Baltimore's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, which will review the RFP responses, told the Baltimore Sun that any commercial use "must be subordinate to the history" and that a multi-use partnership would be ideal for better use of the building.[4]

References

Exhibit inside the Baltimore Civil War Museum
  1. ^ a b Gunts, Edward (2008-01-14). "Train station is on track to preservation". Baltimore Sun. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/baltsun/access/1412326381.html?dids=1412326381:1412326381&FMT=ABS&FMTS. Retrieved 2009-04-28.  
  2. ^ "Allegheny Observer". Railpace Newsmagazine: 43. March 2008.  
  3. ^ a b c d e Potter, Janet Greenstein (1996). Great American Railroad Stations. New York: John Wiley & Sons. p. 135. ISBN 0-471-14389-8.  
  4. ^ a b c Bykowicz, Julie (May 26, 2009). "City seeks tenant for landmark President Street Station". The Baltimore Sun. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/baltimore_city/bal-md.president26may26,0,7932560.story. Retrieved 2009-05-27.  
  5. ^ Wagenblast, Bernie (2002-12-24). "Re: (rshsdepot) President Street Station (Baltimore), MD". http://www.railfan.net/lists/rshsdepot-digest/200212/msg00100.html. Retrieved 2008-03-08.  
  6. ^ Herbert W. Harwood, Jr., Impossible Challenge. Baltimore, Md.: Bernard, Roberts and Co., 1979 (ISBN 0-934118-17-5), p. 416.
  7. ^ "Media room". Maryland Historical Society. 2009. http://www.mdhs.org/about/Media_room.html. Retrieved 2009-04-28.  
  8. ^ Sumathi Reddy (2007-12-28). "History for sale in Inner Harbor". The Baltimore Sun. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/baltimore_city/bal-md.ci.museum28dec28,0,1280016.story. Retrieved 2008-02-01.  
  9. ^ "Station and grounds merit preservation". The Baltimore Sun: p. 10. May 11, 2009.  
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