Omaha Union Station Designated National Historic Landmark

Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell announced the designation of Omaha’s Union Station as one of more
than 20 new national designations made earlier this week. This is the first National Historic Landmark
designated in Nebraska since 1993, bringing the number up to 21 for the state. The National Historic
Landmarks Program, which is managed by the National Park Service, recognizes historic properties of
exceptional national value and promotes the preservation of those places. All National Historic Landmarks
are on the National Register of Historic Places. Few places on the National Register are eligible to be
National Historic Landmarks in part because of requirements to be nationally significant with a high degree
of historic integrity.
“Omaha has served as Headquarters for the 13-state Midwest Region of the National Park Service since
1938,” said Cam Sholly, National Park Service Midwest Regional Director. “One of the main reasons
Omaha was chosen for this important role was its strong rail connections to the West. Therefore, it is fitting
that we are recognizing the significance of the Omaha Union Station as a National Historic Landmark.”
Built in the late 1920s, Omaha Union Station in Omaha, Nebraska, is one of the most distinctive and
complete examples of Art Deco architecture in the nation. The station outstandingly expresses the style’s
innovative and diverse surface ornamentation inspired by the machine age. As one of the earliest Art Deco
train stations designed by the Union Pacific (UP) Railroad, its ultra-modern appearance was a major
departure from previous railroad station designs. Union Station was most used by travelers from 1929 to
1946, before the creation of the Interstate Highway System.
The station was designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, who is best known for designing several iconic
National Park lodges, including ones in Yellowstone, Zion, and Yosemite national parks.
“Congratulations to our community for the incredible work that has gone into preserving this piece of our
city’s rich history,” said Durham Museum Executive Director Christi Janssen. “We want to thank the
National Park Service for their amazing work to put together a stellar nomination and to all of our
supporters, most notably Chuck Durham, who have invested in making Union Station and The Durham
Museum a landmark for our city, and now, our country!”

In 1973 Union Pacific Corporation donated Union Station to the City of Omaha. In 1975 the Western
Heritage Museum opened and operated in the existing facility until 1995. That year, Chuck and Margre
Durham led the effort to support a major renovation of the structure that restored the main waiting room,
now called the Suzanne and Walter Scott Great Hall, to its original grandeur.
With renovation complete, the facility was renamed the Durham Western Heritage Museum in 1997 and in
2008, the museum was renamed The Durham Museum to better reflect its offerings. Since 1997 the facility
has undergone continued upgrades and preservation. Substantial capital conservation projects have taken
place over the past decade to guarantee the long term viability of the historic structure and ensure its place
as a learning center for generations to come.
“Nebraskans have long enjoyed the magnificence and history of Omaha’s Union Station,” Congressman
Don Bacon said about this new designation. “It is a source of pride for Nebraskans that this amazing
historic structure is now recognized as a United States’ Historic Landmark. Congratulations and thank you
to all those who have cared for the landmark for decades. This designation solidifies the significant place in
history for Nebraskans to enjoy for many more generations.”
Governor Pete Ricketts added, “Omaha’s Union Station is a gem and a symbol of our state’s magnificent
history. It’s been home to many reunions and farewells over the years, and now houses pieces of our
state’s history and hosts celebrations, including Susanne and my wedding reception years ago. As a
National Historic Landmark, it joins our own State Capitol building, Boys Town, and Fort Robinson among
the ranks of recognized Nebraska landmarks. My sincere thanks to those who have worked to preserve
this structure, bringing about this designation and preserving Durham for the entire state to enjoy for
generations to come.”
The National Park Service and The Durham Museum plan to host a community celebration later this
spring. Details will be forthcoming.
The National Historic Landmark and National Register programs are two of more than a dozen programs
administered by the National Park Service that provide states and local communities technical assistance,
recognition, and funding to help preserve our nation’s shared history and create close-to-home recreation