Committee renews effort to restore Goldsboro’s Historic Union Station

By Heidi Kirk, WRAL 

Residents in Goldsboro are trying to save the city’s Historic Union Station.

David Weil’s office in downtown Goldsboro is like a time capsule: full of photos, artwork, and books from the nearly 90 years he’s been alive.

“In 1948, I was 13 years old,” Weil said.

Weil said 1948 was a year he’ll never forget. That year, he took a train from Goldsboro to New York City.

“Trains were magic in those days, and to some extent, they still are,” he said.

Weil remembers Goldsboro’s Union Station as a bustling hub of activity, a testament to the city’s vibrant past. Today, it sits empty, a reminder of its former glory.

“There were all sorts of vendors there, selling not hamburgers in those days. It was sandwiches,” he said.

It’s been empty since 1968. Today, it’s padlocked and full of cobwebs, chipped paint, and broken glass.

Goldsboro’s former director of downtown development, Julie Metz, has spearheaded the effort to transform the station for many years.

“I can see the opportunity,” Metz said.

Metz, a key member of the Saving Union Station Committee, envisions a future where the station is restored to its former glory and provides a service to Goldsboro.

“The city has had this property since 2009, but without having an intended use that we know is guaranteed, it’s been hard to find grant funds,” Metz said.

The Southeastern North Carolina Passenger Rail Feasibility Study, a comprehensive assessment of the region’s transportation needs, has influenced the prospects for the station’s restoration.

The study proposes a commissioned passenger rail that goes through Goldsboro. The study recommended that the proposed Wilmington to Raleigh passenger train service take a route that goes through Goldsboro instead of Fayetteville to save ride time and money.

The study found that travel time between Wilmington and Raleigh would be about two hours and 35 minutes instead of an additional hour through Fayetteville, and the cost to build it would be significantly lower.

“We are positioned, better than ever, to successfully land this passenger rail,” Metz said.

The Saving Union Station Committee is raising $1.5 million to restore the building to prepare for the possibility of passenger rail. The funds will bring the station back to its former glory, preserving its historical features and preparing it for future uses.

“It needs immediate stabilization to make sure it’s around for its next intended use,” Metz said.

Weil welcomes the idea of saving the station, remembering his first time on the train.

“It was the most magical evening,” Weil said.

The Saving Union Station Committee will host “Saving Union Station Day” on June 4th, inviting residents to learn about the station’s history and contribute to its future.