Greensboro's Treasured Places
A Tale of Two Stations
Greensboro's own hometown hero was John Motley Morehead, who used his role as governor to advance a number of social and economic causes that led to his nickname "The Father of Modern North Carolina." Among these causes, the construction of the North Carolina Railroad was nearest to his heart. The transportation route, he felt, would open the Piedmont of North Carolina to trade and commerce in ways it could never imagine. Morehead was so fond of the "Iron Horses" that he insisted the railroad pass through his hometown, and that he be buried "alongside of it in the bosom of my own beloved Carolina!"
Greensboro did indeed flourish with the construction of the railroad. Other rail lines followed to the degree that it was nicknamed "Gate City" in recognition of its hub position for rail service. Befitting such an important rail center, the Southern Railroad Company commissioned an impressive station at the rail crossing of South Elm Street. The new depot was opened on June 9, 1899 to serve passenger service in the city. It was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, featuring a massive turret on its street facade, elaborate patterned brickwork, and an array of dormer windows topped with finials and slate shingles.
By the roaring twenties, Greensboro had outgrown the station on Elm Street and it was richly rewarded with construction of the grandest railroad station in North Carolina. Designed by the New York architectural firm of Alfred Fellheimer & Steward Wagner, the 1927 Beaux-Arts facade features Ionic columns, a full entablature, and a three-story arched entry. Inside, the ticketing area features a vast mural displaying the service area of the Southern Railway system in the 1920s.
Both buildings were included on the National Register in 1982. The 1899 station remains used as rail offices. The 1927 station was returned to service as the city's sole Amtrak passenger station in 2005.