The University of Akron is planning to raze the former Akron Union Depot to make way for a new law school building. The university trustees agreed on December 16 to begin design work on the new law school facility, which is expected to cost $23.6 million.
Now known as the Buckingham Building, the former station houses the university’s Pan-African Center for Community Studies, Office of Multicultural Development, the Strive Toward Excellence Program and classrooms.
Demolition of the depot, which was dedicated on April 28, 1950, would begin in 18 to 24 months. The university must still raise the funds needed for the new building and the city of Akron must pay for a realignment of Wolf Ledges Parkway, which is also part of the law school building proposal.
The former depot has 120,000 square feet and university officials told the trustees that the building is inefficient and outdated. The station concourse used to connect to a bus station as well as contain stairways leading down to track level. The concourse now connects to UA’s West Hall and the bus station is gone.
The Buckingham Building is the last steam and streamliner era railroad station left in Akron. Two predecessor union stations were torn down shortly after the railroads ceased using them. Also gone is are two stations used by the Valley Line Railway (later the Baltimore & Ohio), two stations built by the Erie Railroad and the former Northern Ohio Railway station (later Akron, Canton & Youngstown).
Still standing is the terminal used by the Northern Ohio Traction and Light Company and the modular station used by Amtrak until it ceased serving Akron in 2005. The former is now owned by Summit County while the latter remains vacant. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad station in Akron was built on the site of the former B&O Valley Line station at Howard Street.
In a related development, Akron Railroad Club member Steve McMullen reported that CSX crews have been dismantling the remnants of signals bridges and signal stands in downtown Akron. As of Monday (December 21, 2009), only the eastbound home signal bridge for the former JO interlocking was still standing.
McMullen reported that crews are poised to remove the last platform canopy of Akron Union Depot. One platform still remains from the station and it is unclear if it, too, will be removed.
The B&O was the primary user of the third Akron Union Depot. Although the Erie used the second Union Depot, it elected to build its own station rather than use the third union depot. The Pennsylvania Railroad used the Union Depot until removing its last passenger train to Akron, the Akronite, on April 26, 1958.
B&O passenger trains continued to call at Akron Union Depot until the coming of Amtrak on May 1, 1971, when the service was discontinued. Amtrak began serving Akron on November 12, 1990. Amtrak never used the Union Depot per se, but its trains did stop at the east end of the station’s sole remaining platform, which was renovated for Amtrak use.