Locals debated the practicality of riding a train Saturday as they sat at a sleek, black table in Denver’s newly renovated Union Station.
One man suggested that it was purely nostalgic while the woman across from him argued that it was also a cheaper way to travel. But one thing that the whole table could agree on was the perfect balance of vintage and contemporary that makes up the station’s new look.
Thousands of locals and visitors gushed over the renovated main hall during the station’s grand opening celebration Saturday.
Dark, smokey furnishings contrast the fresh, white walls trimmed with ornate detail to create a trendy but nostalgic space.
Parker resident Cindy Sweatt reminisced while she played shuffleboard at one of two tables in the main hall. Sweatt remembers waving to the trains as a child when she visited the station frequently with her grandfather, who worked in an office there for Union Pacific.
Renovations to the station, which opened June 1, 1881, have been underway since December of 2012. New restaurants, boutiques, coffee shops and bars have been opening in the space during the past month or so and welcomed the crowds during Saturday’s grand opening.
The Terminal Bar takes up most of the main hall’s east wall. A marquee of lights hangs above black-framed windows outside the bar where patrons can walk up and order drinks. Servers dressed in all-black circle the station taking orders and delivering drinks. The interior of the bar has a pub feel with gold designs painted on dark walls and colorful bottles lining the bar.
Much of the design inside the station is new, mimicking the beaux arts architecture reflected in the building’s arched windows.
The building’s exterior was preserved to honor the station’s history, and another old treasure hangs above the bar in The Kitchen Next Door.
The restaurant, located in the station’s south wing, refurbished a neon sign that once hung on the outside of the station from the 1950s until the 1980s. The sign reads “Union Station Restaurant” and features a train.
Dana Crawford, Union Station Alliance partner and urban preservationist, remembers the sign from when she used to eat at the station’s former restaurant, the Caboose Lounge, which had the best muffaletta sandwich, she says.
“This place has so many memories to a lot of different people, like riding the train up to Winter Park or bringing the family downtown,” Crawford says. “That’s why it was so important to preserve the history while bringing it up to date.”