Union Station keeps history ‘in the heart of Wichita’


Nithin Reddy Nagapur

Union Station has been home to many different venues, but the exterior remains largely unchanged.

Union Station has gone through several changes since it opened in 1913, but remains a prominent feature in the district of Downtown Wichita, located at 701 East Douglas Avenue.

“It can be considered a connector between Old Town and the arena district in Wichita,” Chad Stafford, President of Occidental Management, said.

The station opened as Wichita’s central railway station, designed by Kansas City architect Louis S. Curtiss, and was a popular arrival and departure point in the city.

However, it was closed in 1979 after the Lone-Star line was discontinued, which was a turning point in ending rail access into the city.

After the railroad closed down, the space turned into an office space for Cox Communications, where they resided until 2007. The building then sat empty for years until it was bought and renovated by current owners Occidental Management.

After millions of dollars and multiple phases of renovations, Union Station was transformed into a modern space, while keeping the integrity of the historical character of the building.

“You’ve got to work to keep the historic nature and integrity of the buildings, while at the same time adding modern features and systems so it’s really an art form to do that,” Stafford said.

An example of keeping the historical integrity was the extensive process of redoing the station’s windows. The black windows on the terminal had to be removed and sent to a specific company in Kansas City that works to make windows energy efficient, all while keeping the historic frame of the windows.

Union Station is now a multifunctional space with a plaza, hotel, restaurants, office spaces and more.

The historical building is now equipped with Wi-Fi, energy efficient systems and sustainable energy components.

“So it is kind of a really cool old iconic building, but it’s got all the bells and whistles of a new building as well,” Stafford said, “It adds a little bit of both, you know, to a place that is really in the heart of Wichita.”