You are now looking at what remains of a once grand structure that was one of the main hubs of activity in the city. In the early 1850s, with the persistence of people like Abner T. Ellis, the railroads arrived in Vincennes to the absolute delight of the citizens here.
Edward Watson and Isaac Mass were two intelligent and determined individuals who were the masterminds of what would become the Union Depot and Hotel. In 1870, construction began on the structure. The building was thoughtfully situated adjacent to where the two rail lines crossed in Vincennes. The depot became an increasingly important structure over time. It transported people, goods, mail, and information to and from the city and throughout the US.
Countless famous people including many presidents passed through the depot and our city. You might be able to imagine how entertaining it would have been to sit in the lobby and simply watch the people come and go. People from virtually every walk of life would have been seen there. It is believed that when he was a young man, comedian Red Skelton used to frequent the place to scrape up some change. There was a fiddler known as “Blind John Moore” who performed for passengers there for many years. Carrie Nation, the “saloon smasher,” and Frank James, the notorious brother of outlaw Jesse James, both made a visit there.
As modes of transportation evolved, it was determined by railroad officials that the structure was no longer needed. The last occupants to stay in the hotel prior to its demolition were refugees displaced by the flood in Evansville, Indiana in 1937. Most of the operations were moved elsewhere and what you see today is all that remains of a once very impressive structure. What is left of the structure is still used regularly for many things such as: a change station, meeting place, and a roadmaster’s office.