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Old Station Doomed

President Orders Destruction
of Sixth Street Depot.

Where Garfield Was Shot

Was Built Forty Years Ago and Then Considered a Handsome Structure—Long Associated with Railroad Traffic of Capital—Superseded by New Union Terminal.

President Roosevelt has repeated his order, through Secretary Taft, to Col. Bromwell, superintendent of public buildings and grounds, to remove the building at Sixth and B streets northwest formerly occupied by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company as its Washington station.

The building and its appurtenances became the property of the United States, through a deed by the company to the War Department, on March 4 of this year. Several weeks ago President Roosevelt directed Col. Bromwell to remove the building in a special order issued by the Secretary of War.

At the time of the reception of this order the building had been leased to two organizations to hold exhibitions in at different times during the late summer and early fall months. It was assumed that the President's order took into account the preservation of the structure until the terms of these agreements had been carried out. Last week, however, the President made his wishes clear that he wanted the demolition of the building to begin at once, as soon as advertisements for the sale of the material could be properly published.

Will Have Leases Abolished.

It is understood that Col. Bromwell will seek releases from the leases of the building and proceed to carry out the directions of his superiors as quickly as possible under the circumstances.

With the destruction of this building will pass from Washington a structure of great historic interest, and one which for many years has been one of the most important public places of the city, being one of the two railroad stations of the city, and the one from which probably came and went the greater number of persons arriving and leaving Washington by rail.

The building was erected by the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Company about forty years ago, and at that time, and for many years afterward, was considered a model railroad station, alike as to size, facilities, and appointments. The late President Cassatt said of it that when it was erected it was planned to accomodate the company for fifty years, but that in twenty-five the business of the company had crowded it facilities.

President Garfield Shot There.

It was in the waiting room of this station that President Garfield received the wound, on July 2, 1881, which terminated his life on September 19 of the same year. Into this station came most of the Presidents for inauguration, from Grant to Roosevelt. It was the entrance into Washington life of many of the statesmen of the country, and from it diplomats, distinguished visitors from abroad, great soldiers, and naval officers came to take up the important duties which awaited them in the Capital of the country. It would idle to guess how many Americans passed its portals. It was for more than a third of a century, the building which temporarily sheltered the greatest number of human beings of any structure in Washington.

Compared with more modern buildings of its kind, it was a modest station, yet with its simple red bricks and stone, and its shapely square tower at the corner, type of the railroad architecture of half a century ago, it was, and is, a pleasing building to look upon. Its proportions are architecturally fine, and its demolition well in one sense be a distinct loss to the beautiful buildings of the city.

It has, however, served its use and purpose. It stands upon public space, which has recently been redeemed from the ownership of a mighty corporation, and the President is probably right in directing its removal, carrying out the original purpose of the legislation enacted for the erection of the new Union Station and the permanent relief of the Mall from encroachments of public traffic.

Old Station Doomed, The Washington Herald, June 21, 1908, Real Estate and Building Section, Page 1. (PDF)