Historic – Church St Train Station

Get to know the City District's History

Historic Church Street Train Station | 78 W. Church St.

Before there was City Walk and Disney Springs, there was Church Street Station, a vibrant entertainment
district that tourists bused to in droves. Church Street Station was developed by local icon Bob Snow in
the cluster of buildings on Church St. between the railroad tracks and Garland Avenue. However, before
there was the Church Street Station entertainment district, there was the original Church Street Station:
Downtown’s historic Church Street Train Station, one of Orlando’s most historic buildings.

The former train station at Church Street, the city’s third, was built in 1889, and opened to much fanfare
in January of 1890. Built for hotel and railroad magnate Henry B. Plant at a cost of $18,000 by Sanford
contractor T.B. Cotter, the station symbolized Orlando’s openness to new large-scale development. The
station was listed as a local landmark in 1973, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976
and was designated as a contributing structure of the Downtown Historic District when it was
established in 1980.

The architectural style is Richardsonian Romanesque named after renowned New York architect H.H.
Richardson. Richardson sought to re-establish a traditional building style that allowed the natural
materials to show through. Preservationists described Richardson’s buildings as grounded, heavy, and
unadorned. The station is actually three buildings linked by piazzas: the office and baggage building on
Church Street, the passenger station in the middle, and a warehouse at the southern end of the
platform. Over the years the original character and design of the station was well-preserved, aside from
it being painted white and having the original eyebrow roof dormers removed in the 60’s.
This Church Street Train Station ceased passenger operation after 36 years in 1926, when a new
passenger station opened at 1400 Sligh Avenue. The Sligh Avenue train station in the SoDo District is
still Orlando’s current passenger station and is also an historic Orlando landmark.

After the Sligh Avenue station opened the Church Street train station was reduced to freight operations
and fell into disrepair until the 1980s when Church Street Station founder Bob Snow sponsored a
massive restoration of the building that included renovating the interior, restoring the eyebrow dormers
on the roof, painting the building its current color scheme, and installing decorative lighting that
highlighted the building lines. 
Today, the Church St. Train Station is privately owned, but this beautiful Romanesque building is still an
Orlando artifact that reminds downtown dwellers, visitors and SunRail passengers every day that the
City District truly is the heart of Orlando.