WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A piece of the past is slowly taking shape in downtown Wilmington. Today, Cape Fear Community College held a topping out ceremony for the new Union Station building. But the building wasn’t the only center of attention.
Piece by piece, a glimpse of the past is slowly taking form on the campus of Cape Fear Community College.
“Well, it’s wonderful, beautiful isn’t it? And I’m sure it will educate a lot of students,” Ollie Caines said.
The 92-year-old Caines worked for the Atlantic Coast Line for 41 years. He, along with many other retired railroad workers, were the special guests at the Union Station steel topping out ceremony. This new building pays homage to the history of the railroad in downtown Wilmington, in particular, the old Union Station Depot.
“That old Union Station building, every time you show a picture of that old building, that’s been gone now since the early ’70s, people have such a fond remembrance of it,” CFCC President Eric McKeithan said. “We said we’re going to be building our union station building, we’re going to be building our building in the same exact location, so why not take your inspiration for the architecture from that building and the name?”
A special part of the ceremony was when all the retired railroad workers got to sign the last beam that’s going on top of the building. One by one, they left their mark on the beam. Some even wrote the years they worked for the railroad.
“That’s going to be good,” retired Atlantic Coast Line worker Dave Smith said. “One-hundred years from now when they tear it down they’ll see my name there.”
After a brief speech, the beam was slowly lifted into the air and put in place. It was a significant moment for those who were there, as a piece of the past joined a part of the future.
“This college, we’ve got a lot to thank the college for doing all these things and actually keeping the history in front of us,” Smith said.
The new Union Station building will be a one-stop center for students featuring financial aid and business offices, a job placement center and counseling services. It will also feature historical markers and a small museum. It’s expected to open in the summer of 2013.