Happy 106th Anniversary, Union Station at MMP!

Union Station in Houston Opened March 1, 1911 The Ballpark at Union Station Later Opened on March 30, 2000

Union Station in Houston
Opened March 1, 1911
The Ballpark at Union Station
Later Opened on March 30, 2000

Happy 106th Anniversary, Union Station at MMP!

Thanks to our eye-on-the-ball freelance contributor, Darrell Pittman, we almost caught the Union Station building at Minute Maid Park quietly celebrating its 106th anniversary on the March 1st actual day it happened back in 1911. We missed our congrats by a day or two, depending upon whether you go by the central zone Greenwich Mean Time – or the  computer clock calendar that governs our publication dates. – Either way, that narrow sin belongs to The Pecan Park Eagle, not Darrell. At any rate, here is the whole story, as harvested by the always-lurking-in the-halls-of-relevant-history Mr. Pittman from the the ancient pages of the Dallas Morning News:

Union Station Story Headlines Dallas Morning News March 3, 1911

Union Station
Story Headlines
Dallas Morning News
March 3, 1911

The Verbatim Story from the Dallas Morning News, As Reassembled by Darrell Pittman



COST ABOUT $1,000,000

Prominent Railroad Officers Attend Ample and Commodious Structure – Well Arranged.

Special to The News.

Houston, Tex., March 2 – Union Station, the new passenger depot of the Houston Belt and Terminal Company, regarded by railroad men as being the most commodious, accessible and convenient in Texas from the viewpoint of railroad employes as well as the travelling public was formally dedicated Wednesday night when the new edifice was thrown open to the public with a reception, Music and speecgmaking. Several hundred people visited the massive structure, among them being many prominent officials from other railroads and the officials of the Houston Belt and Terminal Company and its supporting lines were heartily congratulated for providing Houston with such a handsome building.

Col. Ball Makes Presentation

Col. Thomas H. Ball, general counsel for the Houston Belt and Terminal Company, speaking from a bower of palms high up in a balcony, formally presented the station to the city of Houston.

City Commissioner Gaston, representing Mayor Rice and the city of Houston, accepted the building in the spirit in which it was tendered and the two speaker dwelt upon the fact that Houston at last had a union passenger station worth of the name. Adolph Boldt, secretary of the Houston Chamber of Commerce, also contributed a few remarks.

Railroad Men Present

 Among some of the prominent visiting railroad officials who were present were G. F. Pettibone, vice president and general manager of the Santa Fe, Galveston; W. E. Maxon, general superintendent of the Harvey Dining Houses, St. Louis; S. A. Kendig, industrial agent of the Santa Fe, Galveston; J. Paul Cowley, chief clerk to second vice president of the Santa Fe, Galveston; D. O. Collamer, tariff inspector of the Santa Fe, Galveston.

New Business Section

 Erected at a cost of nearly $1,000,000, the new station is considered perfect from the standpoint of location, architectural beauty and convenience. Situated only six blocks from the heart of the business section of the city, with good street car facilities, the station supplies a long-felt want. The waiting rooms, the arrangement of the ticket office, the baggage department, the trackage facilities and the dining accommodations, in fact, every department were all carefully studied and mapped out before the building was started. With ample ground space the builders were able to plan a passenger terminal which is said to be unexcelled in the Southwest.

The interior arrangement of the spacious waiting room is one of the conspicuous things about the new station. Supported by fluted columns the ceiling rises to the second story and the lone great room occupies the entire depth of the building from Crawford street to the train shed behind. Lengthwise of the building this main waiting room stretches almost from Prairie to Texas avenues, furnishing passageway and seating room for hundreds of travelers at one time. This is the white waiting room; the negro waiting room at one end of the building being large and comfortable.

Decorations Are Beautiful.

 The decorative finish of the entire interior of the building is also a conspicuous feature. Imported marble – rose de Rance – from France has been used lavishly in the waiting rooms and adjoining portions of the ground floor, such as the ladies and children’s rest rooms and accessories. It is said that no such stone has ever before been used in a Texas building, and its unique texture will always be an object of interest to passers through the building.

The dining room will be under the management of the Fred Harvey concern, which bespeaks the best of service in that respect. It will be one of the largest eating houses under the Harvey management. This will be located in the south end of the building on the ground floor.

Back of the main waiting room will be a gigantic “midway” where people may stand while waiting for the arrival of trains. This space is more than 100 feet wide and one whole block in length. It is covered with a high roof, and will be cool and airy in summer. There is standing room for 1,000 people in this midway.

Trains Scientifically Handled.

 The midway is separated from the train tracks by gates and an ornamental fence. All trains will back into the train sheds, obviating the necessity of passing locomotives. Trains will back in and head out, and the arrangement of tracks permits the uninterrupted movement of several trains at one time. Movement of trains will be directed and controlled from a signal tower and the interlocking system first made famous at the great St. Louis Union Station, will practically eliminate chances of accidents.

Only one-half of the ground available for train tracks has been used up to the present time. The remainder of the grounds will be held in reserve for future expansion. Train sheds and trains sufficient to accommodate eighty of the longest coaches comprise the present equipment in that respect. Between the tracks and under the sheds elevated concrete and cement walk, full width, have been built, and clean, dry and comfortable walking is thus assured.

Stories May Be Added.

 The second and third stories of the building have been occupied by the general offices of the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railroad Company. The building is so constructed that additional stories may be added without disturbing the lower floors, and officials of the company state that sooner or later three additional stories will be added. The exterior of the first two floors is constructed of a gray sandstone, the third story with red brick, and the edifice is crowned with a broad and slightly inclined roof of light green tiles, making a color effect which seems in harmony with the climate and surroundings.

Roads Using Station.

 This station is at present being used by the lines of the Frisco, the Rock Island and the Santa Fe, which are the supporting lines of the Houston Belt and Terminal Company. Rates have been furnished all of the other Houston lines, however, and it is possible that sooner or later all of them will use it, with the exception probably of the Harriman lines. It is known that the Katy officials are considering the use of the station, and it is believed that the San Antonio and Aransas Pass officials will also decide to use it. Its location and connection with other railroads make it the most accessible station in Houston.

~ Dallas Morning News, March 3, 1911, (Re-transcribed by Darrell Pittman for easier legibility.)


 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

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One Response to “Happy 106th Anniversary, Union Station at MMP!”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    Just before my first trip to the Astros’ new ballpark, Enron Field, a friend in Denver asked if I had ever been there before, and I answered, “Sort of.”

    Shortly after I was born in Houston in December of 1946, my mother boarded a train at Union Station and took me to her hometown of Trinidad, Colorado. Over the years, my mother, father, sister, and I made several round trips to Trinidad from Union Station.

    When I came to Houston for my first game on May 8, 2000 (Rockies vs. Astros), I made sure I entered through the Union Station entrance.

    A couple years ago I purchased a paver brick that was placed just a few yards north of Union Station at the Left Field Entrance that reads,


    I still wish they had kept the originally proposed name of The Ballpark at Union Station.

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