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Baker Street Station 1920

By Randy Harter

Fort Wayne Reader

2017-06-05


When the Pennsylvania Lines railroad tracks were elevated through downtown Fort Wayne during 1911-1913, the old Pennsy railroad station that sat about at the location of todayís Mikes Carwash on Calhoun was removed. A new station designed by the Philadelphia firm of Price and McLanahan was built two blocks west and finished in March of 1914. Constructed of semi-glazed buff brick, the beautiful two-story building featured terrazzo floors, marble borders, bronze light fixtures, and over the main concourse, stained-glass skylights. The final cost was $550,000, which adjusted for inflation would be about $13M in 2017 dollars.

Through the years, this station serviced passengers for the Pennsylvania RR, Penn Central RR, Conrail and finally, Amtrakís Broadway Limited (Chicago to New York City), which made its last stop at the station on November 11, 1990 (now rerouted through Waterloo). The building, now known as the Baker Street Station, saw more than its share of luminaries and politicians, many of whom used it as a whistle stop opportunity to reach out to voters. Some of those that gave speeches on Baker Street included U.S. Presidents Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower. Likely the stationís highest usage was during World War II, when an estimated 3,000 passengers passed through the station each day.

During the 1990ís the station nearly became a twisted pile of rubble as the city had issued permits to demolish the once beautiful structure, which by that time featured broken windows and had been stripped of anything salvageable. Fortunately, local architect Vic Martin came to the rescue, gaining ownership of the property in May of 1996. With the help of other passionate citizens and volunteers over the ensuing years, the property was returned to its former grandeur, as well as being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Now, in addition to being the home of Martin Riley Architects & Engineers, the wonderfully restored main concourse is rented for banquets, receptions and community events. (Image courtesy ACPL)

Randy Harter is a Fort Wayne historian, author, and tour guide for Fort Wayne Food Tours.

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