When the Pennsylvania Station, now known as the Baker Street Station, threw open its doors on March 23, 1914, it was an event which culminated 55 years of rail travel in Fort Wayne and ushered in a new era of rail service. The new $550,000 station was the gateway to the city for thousands who used this invaluable mode of transportation, and as such had a strong impact on commerce and architecture.
Though the City was also served by three other rail lines during this period, each of which had its own station, no other railroad had the impact on local development as did the Pennsylvania Railroad, The Pennsylvania Car Shops, open since 1837, employed more than 1,000 men at one time, making it one of the City's major employers well into the twentieth century. Pennsylvania Station was visited by 10,000 people on opening day and was announced as being the largest and grandest of the City's four stations.
Through most of the twentieth century, Pennsylvania Station was the principal gateway used by travelers arriving in Fort Wayne. During World War II, the station saw its greatest use an estimated 3,000 people passed through the depot on a daily basis.
The Station was the scene of many social and political events that were special to Fort Wayne residents. Major political candidates, including every U.S. President from Harding to Eisenhower, made whistle-stops at the depot to deliver campaign speeches. But perhaps the most common source of recent memories associated with the station was the annual arrival of Santa Claus at the depot on the day after Thanksgiving. This annual event was sponsored by the largest known department store, Wolf and Dessauer, from 1945 through the 1950's. A related event was the "Santa Claus Special," a train excursion from Fort Wayne to Chicago that was sponsored for several years by local radio station WOWO in the late 1950's. These occurrences were observed with anticipation and pride by local citizens during the middle decades of the twentieth century.
William L. Price, an architect with Price and McLanahan in Philadelphia, designed the Baker Street Station as well as all Pennsy Stations between Pittsburgh and Chicago. The Station attests to Price's national recognition as a premier Arts and Crafts style architect and stands as a unique representative of Craftsman-style architecture in the City. The cruciform structure blends a mixture of classical and medieval elements including large arched windows, barrel-vaulted concourse, elaborately buttressed corners, parapeted gables, terrazzo and green-veined marble flooring, oak woodwork and bronze electrolier lamps
The east and west wings have been renovated for use by several businesses. The concourse is open to the city for community events. The Baker Street Station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Building - #98001056 listed as Pennsylvania Railroad Station).