Then & Now

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Posted August 13, 2021 | Ocala Gazette

The Ocala Union Station at 531 Northeast First Ave. was built in 1917 by the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line Railroads. It is shown in this 1920 photo. The station was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Place in 1997 and continued operating until 2004, when Amtrak took the stop off it routes. The main passenger area sat mostly empty for about a decade, although a portion of the facility was converted into a restaurant. [State Archives of Florida]

Union Station is shown in Ocala in July. In 2015, the Ocala City Council approved a plan to turn the station into an art incubator. The Magnolia Art Xchange offers studio rentals for resident artists and holds special events and shows. The station also serves as the SunTran terminal. The city’s bus service started operation in 1998. While the restaurant at the station closed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is seeking another operator to take over the space. [Bruce Ackerman/OG]

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