County Historian Joseph P. Bottini is set to offer an illustrated presentation about Utica’s Union Station at the Rome Historical Society’s auditorium on January 16th at 7 pm. He will share details of its history, construction, architectural features, and the story of how it narrowly avoided abandonment.
The station was built between 1912 and 1914, replacing an older structure dating from 1869. The building was designed by New York architects Stem and Fellheimer. Construction involved the rerouting of the Mohawk River due to the risk of flooding and proximity of the river to the railroad.
At one time, the waiting room contained three ticket windows, an information office, 15 pay telephones, a Western Union office, two shoeshine stands, a bar and grill. As originally built, the station featured six islands directly accessible from the station building, serving 12 tracks for New York Central Railroad trains.
As train service declined the building was almost lost to history. The concern and action of a small group of people saved it from the wrecking ball and in 1975 the Station was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Mr. Bottini will address some contemporary questions such as: What is the modern need for a train station? What is the impact of a train station on its community/people? Is the need for such public places still important?
Joseph Bottini is a retired history teacher having taught in Utica for 16 years (1969-1985) and New Hartford for 19 years (1985-2004). Joe was appointed Oneida County Historian in 2014. He is co-author of Utica: Then & Now (Arcadia Publishing), a comparative photo history of Utica; and Oneida County – An Illustrated History, a publication of the Oneida County Historical Society. Joe also was research consultant and editor of Legendary Locals of Greater Utica by James L. Davis.
Joe is a staff writer of local history articles for Greater Utica, Oneida County’s premier local history magazine.
The program is free and open to everyone.
The Rome Historical Society is located at 200 Church Street, Rome. For more information, call (315) 336-5870 or visit their website.
Photo of Union Station in Utica by Doug Kerr.