The heyday of railway travel may have passed, but the nostalgic allure of architecturally striking infrastructure has ensured that it’s not the end of the line for many historic station buildings. We recently learned that Union Station in Denver, which opened to passengers in the late 19th century, will be transformed into a trendy hotel, with adjoining restaurants and a beer hall, by 2014. Click through our gallery to see how other train stations have been repurposed into thriving cultural centers, libraries, and more.
Train Station Library
Library attendance numbers in the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands were dwindling. A public service organization decided to bring books to the people instead of waiting for people to come to the books. They created a public library in part of the Haarlem train station, providing a literary oasis for busy commuters.
Train Station Museum
One of the most well-known repurposed train stations is the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. It’s housed in the former Gare d’Orsay train station, designed by Victor Laloux, Lucien Magne, and Émile Bénard. The beaux-arts railway was the first urban, electrified system in the world when it opened in 1900. The Musée d’Orsay moved its impressionist and post-impressionist collection into the station in 1986.
Train Station Village Home
“We wanted to maintain the feel of the railway station, but at the same time it had to be homely. We wanted memorabilia, but not a museum,” the owners of the Long Melford Station in England said of their 1865 converted railway station home. You can read about the restoration process over here.
Train Station Chalet
We’re madly in love with this converted train station dream home from owner and architect Antonie Bertherat-Kioes in Gstaad, Switzerland. Tucked between six lakes, black spruce valleys, and beautiful meadows is the former Gruben Station, which opened in 1904. It’s now a three-level home that contains many of the original railway’s architectural fragments. An old control panel became an encased fireplace, and two massive transformers act as room dividers.
Train Station Restaurant
The Grand Concourse in Pittsburgh has been serving up seafood since 1978, but in 1901 the historic restaurant was serving 76 passenger trains per day. The steel city station was once a major hub along the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad.
Train Station Luxury Rental Cottage
Dent Station in Yorkshire, England opened in 1877, but fell out of service between the 1960s and ’80s. Eventually, it was converted into a luxury rental. A parallel train line still drops passengers off in the area, which is totally convenient. The biggest draw, however, is the stunning view.
Train Station Contemporary Art Museum
This is what the Hamburger Bahnhof (Hamburg Station) in Berlin looked like as a railway station in 1850. After 37 years of service, it was shut down and in 1996, it became a center for contemporary art. Carsten Höller exhibited his reindeer on mushrooms installation there.
Photo credit: soraxtm
Train Station Grand Foyer
Deviantart photographer soraxtm snapped this beautiful image of a former train station. There doesn’t seem to be any further information about the location, but that’s ok. We’re too busy looking up at that gorgeous ceiling and balcony to care about much of anything.
Train Station Concert Hall
The Julio Prestes Train Station in São Paulo, Brazil has been transformed into an incredible concert hall — the home of the São Paulo State Symphonic Orchestra. The Louis XVI European-style hall is a thriving cultural center and contains a giant music library. The history of Sala São Paulo reaches back to the roots of Brazil’s coffee industry in 1875. The former station was the main hub where coffee was transported throughout the country.
Photo credit: Josh Beeman
Train Station Arts and Culture Center
During the 19th century, Cincinnati was a railway mecca. The Union Terminal opened in 1933 and saw 216 trains zipping in and out of the station per day. It was shut down in the 1970s, and the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal was born. The monumental art deco edifice houses theaters, libraries, and other cultural gems. Basically, we want to live there.