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The history behind Union Station + California Dreaming 🚂

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Exterior of Union Station, now California Dreaming

California Dreaming on S. Main St. of Columbia, formerly Union Station | Photo provided

DYK that before California Dreaming was filled with the smells of honey-butter croissants, its building was a functioning railway station?

In 1899, Southern Railroad + the Atlantic Coast Line agreed to construct a station on Columbia’s South Main St. Union Station opened to the public in 1902.

The station was designed by prominent Southeastern architect Frank P. Milburn, who specialized in “artistic as well as durable” public buildings. Milburn’s use of high-quality materials + attention to decorative details is evident in the design of Union Station, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

National Register of Historic Places nomination form screenshot

Union Station’s nomination form via South Carolina Department of Archives and History

The 1973 nomination form for the building’s place on the National Register of Historic Places reads, “The property is being negotiated for now and if it is sold, Union Station will certainly be torn down.” The application made the case that Union Station be preserved not just for its historic, eclectic design, but also to serve as a reminder of a time in American history when train travel reigned supreme.

“In many American cities today railroad stations are being abandoned and destroyed … Soon we will be left with few buildings to remind us of a time when passenger trains were the most important means of travel.”

To honor its past, California Dreaming recently adorned its walls with historic images from UofSC’s photo archives:

California Dreaming interior

Historic photo of a Union Station bench courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina | Photo provided

California Dreaming interior

Map of Columbia inside California Dreaming | Photo provided

California Dreaming interior

Vintage photo of Union Station inside California Dreaming | Photo provided

Check out California Dreaming’s Facebook page for more photos of their updated look, or enjoy them in person the next time you stop in for lunch or dinner.