By Luke Anderson
October 18, 2017
Evanston's Union Pacific Depot was built in 1900 thanks to the steady flow of passenger train traffic across Wyoming and the rest of the west. After car and airplane travel became more economical and convenient throughout the 20th century, passenger train travel dropped off significantly and many depots across Wyoming were no longer needed for their original purpose. Toward the end of the 20th century, many depots were repurposed as museums or other community centers. In the late 1980s, the Union Pacific donated the Evanston depot to the city of Evanston. It is now used as a community space for public meetings and a venue for weddings and other events. The depot is a contributing building to Evanston's downtown historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Like many other western Union Pacific depots, Evanston's depot is a squat, powerful masonry structure built loosely in the Romanesque Revival style. It has a prominent, steeply sloped hipped roof with broad flared eaves that overhang significantly over the walls. The overhangs are supported by massive timber knee braces. The rest of the depot is noticeably more ornamented than the surrounding buildings. The detailed brickwork features two different contrasting colors of masonry. A large stepped gable flanked by two octagonal brick towers with conical roofs adorn the facade of the depot. Visitors to the depot are ushered in through a massive semicircular arched entryway.
Evanston's historic Union Pacific depot is a well-preserved example of a western railroad passenger depot. Its unique ornamentation sets it apart from other similar buildings in Wyoming, and Evanston's use of it as a community center has kept the depot alive as a functioning part of the city's downtown. These depots are significant because they are remnants of a very important period of American history and development; a period that brought people from many different cultures and backgrounds to find a new life on the frontier.
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