Springfield’s Union Station, shut since 1970s, is reopened for $95m
It opened in 1926, a hub for travelers and the commerce hurtling through Western Massachusetts. But time — and changing tastes in travel — were not friends.
So in the 1970s, Springfield’s Union Station was shuttered.
Now, more than four decades later, and after $95 million worth of renovations, the landmark downtown station is primed for a revival.
“It will really bring people back to a period in history. So much [of the station] is still original,” said US Representative Richard E. Neal, who has been a key figure in the restoration and whose district includes Springfield.
On Monday, Neal and local leaders unveiled the reborn station during a media tour. The grand opening will take place the weekend of June 24 and 25.
The distinctive terrazzo floors were restored, a new roof was put in, period light fixtures were installed, eight murals depicting Springfield’s history were hung, and an iconic clock was placed in the grand concourse.
Neal, who has a special connection with the station, believes it was money well spent.
“I kicked off my political career here 40 years ago, so [the station] still has great meaning to me and the people of Springfield,” Neal, a Democrat, said in a telephone interview Monday. “Restoring this station can make Springfield a transportation and commercial center, as well as do a lot of good.”
Union Station had a long and storied history in Springfield. At least until cars and airplanes stole the passengers.
“The highways came through Springfield, and that really spelled the end. As rail declined, the station just didn’t have much of a purpose,” Neal said. “It’s been 43 years, and now we’re giving it that purpose back.”
Neal said that with improvements made to the rails, he expects ridership on Amtrak trains to increase. Although the station will primarily serve passengers at first, Neal believes there are prime opportunities to expand into commercial rail, as well.
There’s no question that Springfield has benefited economically from the restoration, Neal said:
“In construction alone, there have been hundreds of jobs created. Then there were architectural firms that were hired and artists commissioned. Now that it’s done, food stands and shops have gone up, leading to new jobs in the service industry.”
Neal believes that when the public can see what’s been done, any doubt about the worth of the project will be gone.
“We all love to say, ‘I hate to say I told you so,’ but secretly we all love to say, ‘I told you so.’ I told you so. We did it,” Neal said.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno agreed.
“The naysayers said we’d never finish, but we’ve proved them wrong,” Sarno said.