Michigan Central Railroad Station

  • Location: 459 N. Burdick, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: C-5
  • Designation: Michigan Central Railroad Station
  • Date: 1887
  • Style: Romanesque

The following material is from the 1973 Initial Inventory of Historic Sites and Buildings in Kalamazoo and was made available for use here by the Historic Preservation Coordinator of the City of Kalamazoo. See Introduction to an Initial Inventory for details about how the survey was conducted.

Kalamazoo celebrated one Sunday morning in 1846, when the Michigan Central ran its first train into town. A few years later, passengers and freight could move on as far as Chicago, and Kalamazoo's future as a rail center was assured. Eventually four rail lines converged at the edge of downtown, but the Michigan Central played the major role. In the 1870s, travelers stepped down in front of a building several feet north of the present station. They looked across the tracks to a pleasant village park. In 1886, however, Ann Arbor called its new station, built of massive stone for $25,000, the finest between Buffalo and Chicago. Not to be outdone, the Kalamazoo Telegraph announced in a special edition for 1887 that we had a fine new station as well. Built of red brick and stone on the site of the old village park, it offered Kalamazoo the fashionable "Romanesque" architecture that Henry Hobson Richardson had made popular in the East. Heavy arches and turrets gave it something of the massiveness of a medieval castle - a fit new structure to bring Kalamazoo into what Willis F. Dunbar called in All Aboard, the "Golden Age of Rail Travel."

Rail and freight traffic increased as the years went by. A local reporter wrote in 1906, that fifty trains a day came into Kalamazoo and that freight tonnage in and out of the city ranked second in the state. By World War I, thirty-five passenger trains stopped at the station platform; but not long after, the railroads would feel the impact of cars and trucks and planes. Many of the old station houses disappeared like the one in Grand Rapids, torn down to provide for a new freeway interchange, Others were converted to new uses as was the Grand Rapids and Indiana station on East Michigan, built in 1872 and now serving as a restaurant. The Michigan Central Station remained to become the New York Central, and in the 1960s, the Penn-Central -- a reminder of times when steam whistles blew every few minutes, and the station served as a center of community activity.

This report was converted from a typewritten document to a digital text document in September 2004. Other than punctuation and spelling corrections, and the addition of BOLD type site address and names, no changes were made. Minor formatting changes were made for use on this website, but the text was not altered. Original survey dated 1973.

Additonal sources

Kalamazoo Lost and Found

  • Houghton, Lynn Smith and Pamela Hall O'Connor
  • Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission, 2001, page 227
  • H 720.9774 H838

Website: National Register of Historic Places