The rostral columns and balustrades located in the front of Union Station were part of the original station design by Daniel Burnham in 1908. Two “gateways” comprised of pairs of large classical rostral columns mounted on stone balustrades were to frame the magnificent façade of the station. Each column was decorated with lights and topped with gold-leafed eagles poised to take flight.

In 2014, it was determined that the rostral columns and balustrades had a high degree of structural integrity; however there were areas of deterioration which required repair. From October 2016 to January 2017, a project to implement the necessary rehabilitation efforts to restore these historic icons to their original splendor was undertaken. This included new durable paint finishes, regilding of the eagles, and restoration of the granite balustrades. The work also entailed removal and transport of the cast iron columns and lampposts off-site for disassembly, cleaning, painting, and restoration. Simultaneously, the granite balustrades restoration took place on-site. This was the first time since the original installation that the columns and balustrades had been disassembled and cleaned.

This project was partially funded through the Transportation Alternatives Program of the Federal-Aid Highway Program, administered by the DC Department of Transportation.

USRC would like to thank all involved for their hard work and dedication.


Finished Product

Additional photographs of the rostral columns restoration project can be found on USRC’s Facebook page at