Choo Choo Partners and Cornerstones, Inc. announced on Wednesday that the Terminal Station will undergo a historic renovation project. The Dome portion of the historic train station terminal will be under the ownership of the historic preservation nonprofit thanks to the generous donation from Choo Choo Partners.
is also kicking off a fundraising campaign to reach a goal of $1 million to complete the Terminal Station restoration project. Choo Choo Partners has already committed $350,000 in addition to the donation of Terminal Station itself.
“This is such an exciting time for historic preservation in Chattanooga,” said Ann Gray, executive director of Cornerstones, Inc. “We are proud to take ownership of this iconic historic property and show by example how historic properties can be saved and restored through a private and public partnership.”
Terminal Station was a success story of the nascent preservation movement in the early 1970s. With the decline in the train travel, the station closed in 1970. In 1973, a group of local businessmen saved the building, reopening in 1974 with a hotel, convention center, shops and restaurants on the grounds. Terminal Station was listed on the National Register in 1973. In 1989, Choo Choo Partners brought new management and renovations to the complex.
There have been nearly 80 train stations demolished in the United States since the decline in train travel. The Union Station, located on MLK across from the Read House, was one of those stations that was demolished in the 1970s to make way for two office buildings.
“We take for granted that our historic buildings are always going to be here,” said Ms. Gray. “We’ve seen over and over how easily historic properties have been demolished. We are so proud to say that will never happen to Terminal Station.”
The Beaux-Arts-style station designed by Donn Barber was completed in 1908. The center arch section, the Dome, was the largest self-supporting brick arch in the world. During its height of operations in the early 20th century, the station’s 14 tracks moved thousands of people and tons of goods across the country, making Chattanooga the primary travel route from North to South.
The train station achieved international fame in 1941 when the Glen Miller and His Orchestra recorded “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” a big band song which went to No. 1 and became the first certified gold record.
“Terminal Station was built for the public and it is now going to be returned to the public domain where we believe it should be,” said Jon Kinsey, managing partner of Choo Choo Partners. “We are extremely proud of this partnership with Chattanooga’s only historic preservation organization.”