Remembering the Demolition


In the 1960s Portland lost two great architectural landmarks, with the destruction of Union Station on St. John Street and the Grand Trunk Railroad Station on India Street. With the decline in passenger rail service in the 1960s, both stations were made obsolete. Union Station was replaced by a shopping center, while the Grand Trunk Railroad site is now occupied by a pumping station. The loss of these unique landmarks continues to energize many Portlanders to preserve the city’s historic buildings.

Union Station

55 years ago, on August 31, 1961, Union Station came crashing down.  Still reeling from the event, in 1962 Edith Sills gathered concerned citizens in her Vaughan Street living room to form an organization to advocate for the preservation of Portland's historic architecture.  The group would become Greater Portland Landmarks. 

Historic Postcard Images of Union Station

I was six years old when Union was torn down. I remember crying and asking my mother why anyone would do such a thing. I remember seeing the photo in the newspaper of the gull flying off the tower as it collapsed. At six it made no sense. And now, at 61, it makes no sense either.
— Vana Carmona

The Demolition of Union Station documented by Doris I. Johnson

Grand Trunk Railroad Depot

This year also marks 50 years since Grand Trunk Railroad Station was torn down in March of 1966.  What is left of the station is in the process of being preserved by Gorham Savings Bank. The Grand Trunk Railroad contributed to Portland's success as a seaport by extending its railroad tracks right onto the wharves, allowing products coming into Portland from western Canada through Montreal direct access to ships that would carry this cargo throughout the world.  

Historic Postcards of Grand Trunk Railroad Depot

Images of Grand Trunk Railroad from Maine Historical Society

The demolition of Grand Trunk Railroad Depot

My memories of Union Station were all of my mom taking me there to watch the trains. She took me on one of the last trains to OOB before they stopped and of course of lots of crying when they tore it down. Grand Trunk was very small, but very cool. They tried to save it and have businesses in it, but that got torn down too and now a very ugly thing is on its place! Just like Union Station. My dad was not happy about either. That was a huge wakeup call to save historic buildings in Portland.
— Bobbi Tucker