Friends of Tampa Union Station was founded in the Fall of 2008 by a group of citizens eager to preserve Tampa Union Station’s colorful past and to assure its future. The organization was founded in cooperation with the City of Tampa’s Growth Management & Development Services Department, which administers Tampa’s historic preservation program and owns and operates historic Tampa Union Station, along with the Florida Coalition of Rail Passengers.
Friends of Tampa Union Station has been very active since its founding. Late last year, Friends of Tampa Union Station established the Tampa Union Station Preservation Fund at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, a permanent endowment for the care, upkeep, and improvement of Tampa Union Station, which was built in 1912. Income from the endowment goes to the City of Tampa to assist with the ongoing restoration of this historic landmark. The fund’s balance stands at over $23,000, with the promise of a $12,500 challenge grant from the Community Foundation when the level of donations reaches $37,500.
On May 9, 2009, the Friends co-hosted National Train Day at Tampa Union Station, an event which brought out over 1,200 people. The Tampa celebration was one of several large events held that day around the country to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the laying in 1869 of the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, which completed America’s first transcontinental railroad.
Visitors to Tampa Union Station were treated to an Amtrak equipment display, exhibits from the Tampa Bay History Center, TBARTA, the City of Tampa’s Office of Historic Preservation and Urban Design, HART, Pinellas County Heritage Village, a Radio Disney remote broadcast, and the Tampa Bay Lightning Girls, among other features. Tampa Poet Laureate James Tokely was also on hand to do a dramatic reading of his poem, “The Epic of Tampa Union Station”.
There are many ways to participate in the ongoing preservation of Tampa Union Station, which is Tampa’s Amtrak station. Friends of Tampa Union Station, on the web at www.tampaunionstation.com, is also now on Facebook and Twitter. Details on how individuals can donate to the Tampa Union Station Preservation Fund at the Community Foundation are detailed on the website.
Upcoming plans are exciting. In the near future, Friends of Tampa Union Station will launch a redesigned website at www.tampaunionstation.com which will include a detailed history of the station, will unveil a new logo, and hopes to start a “buy a brick” engraved donor brick program at the station. Preservationists of all ages are invited to participate!