Union Station


Van Brunt, Henry (American architect, 1832-1903)

Union Station


 800 Northwest 6th Avenue, Portland, Oregon

Style: Romanesque Revival


James Barratt, Elizabeth Neal, and Katrina Padre, Medieval Portland Capstone Student, Medieval Portland Walking Map Project, Fall 2011

Though originally the dream of German-born railroad tycoon Henry Villard in 1881, his bankruptcy in 1883 suspended the building of the station until the beginning of the next decade.  Kansas architectural firm Van Brunt and Howe’s original exterior remains much the same as it was at the time of its completion in the late 1890s, even though the interior experienced substantial modification in the remodeling of the late 1920s. The exterior offers a modern interpretation of Italian Renaissance architecture. The basic structure bears striking similarities to Siena’s Palazzo Pubblico, with its impossibly lean tower stretching heavenward. The many evenly spaced windows of its body mirror the Sienese structure’s arched ones, also set in a molded brick facade. Also, a large rounded portion of the building seems to recall the exterior wall of an Italian Romanesque church apse. The Seth Thomas clock in the station’s tower dates to 1898. The brick interlocking tower is the only remaining operational one of its kind in the Northwest. The interior renovations were designed by Pietro Belluschi, also the architect of the Portland Art Museum, and included Italian marble sheathing for the walls and floor and a vestibule with two sets of bronze doors.