Get to Know More About Sunset Station

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In the heart of downtown San Antonio’s St. Paul Square, you can see and visit The Espee, a vibrant symbol of the city’s rich history blended with modern allure. Originally established as the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Sunset Limited Train Route, this iconic venue has evolved from a bustling train station connecting various states to a premier destination for live entertainment.

Known affectionately in its past life as Sunset Station and by nicknames like “The Building of 1000 Lights” and “The Crossroads of America,” The Espee today continues to electrify with its unique blend of historical charm and contemporary offerings. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or looking for an unforgettable night out, The Espee invites you to experience the pulse of San Antonio’s cultural scene in a setting where the past meets the present in spectacular fashion.

The History and Origins of The Espee (Formerly Sunset Station)

Sunset Depot, San Antonio, Texas

The Espee, originally known as Sunset Station, holds a special place in the history of San Antonio. The station, designed in the striking Spanish Mission Revival style by architect Daniel J. Patterson, was completed in 1902 and has since been a landmark of historical significance. It linked the city to major urban centers across the United States through the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Sunset Limited train route. In 1975, its architectural and cultural value was nationally recognized when it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

After Amtrak moved its operations to a new facility in 1998, the historic station underwent extensive restoration under the stewardship of VIA Metropolitan Transit. It transitioned from a bustling train station to a vibrant cultural venue. Today, The Espee stands next to modern landmarks like the Alamodome and the Robert Thompson Transit Station, blending the historical with the contemporary.

A notable piece of its railroad heritage, the Southern Pacific No. 794—a 2-8-2 Baldwin “Mikado” steam locomotive—adds to the site’s historical allure. It was initially displayed at Maverick Park after being donated to the City of San Antonio in 1956, and then it was relocated to the station in 1999. It has been maintained by volunteers from the San Antonio Railroad Heritage Museum since 2008.

Though the Sunset Station transformed into The Espee, it still preserved the original station’s historical significance and revitalized it into a premier destination for entertainment, hosting concerts and events that attract both locals and visitors. This blend of rich history and modern functionality underscores The Espee’s role in promoting the cultural vibrancy of San Antonio’s East Side.

Recent Developments at The Espee

In a significant stride towards revitalizing East San Antonio’s St. Paul Square, East Commerce Realty LLC announced ambitious plans in 2019 to transform the historic Sunset Station into a modern live entertainment venue, aptly renamed The Espee. This rebranding pays homage to the venue’s railroad heritage, specifically the Southern Pacific Railroad, which has deep roots in the area’s history.

The renovation strategy led by industry veterans Michael Jersin, Don Thomas, and David Adelman aims to invigorate the district and draw economic growth to the East Side of downtown. Don Thomas, a key figure in the project, expressed confidence in the venue’s potential to boost the local economy by promoting The Espee as a premier music and event destination.

The complex was significantly enhanced to handle its new purpose. The outdoor pavilion was upgraded to host up to 4,500 concertgoers, and six internal spaces within the depot will be renovated to offer diverse entertainment options.

Features and Venues at The Espee

The Espee offers a variety of distinctive spaces that cater to a wide range of events, from large concerts to private gatherings, each designed with unique features to enhance the visitor experience.

Espee Plaza: The Espee Plaza spans over 19,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 2,175 guests. This expansive outdoor area boasts an array of features, including the TX Music Legends Mural, a striking water fountain, and newly designed landscaping. The ambiance is further enriched by string lights, creating a vibrant setting for events and celebrations.

Espee Pavilion: Covering 8,700 square feet, the Espee Pavilion is a covered area that can house up to 1,000 guests. It is equipped with three satellite bars and has been updated with two renovated green rooms, a production office, a security office, and practical amenities like a washer and dryer, making it ideal for various productions and large events.

Depot 2: Formerly a restaurant, Depot 2 is a 2,700-square-foot space that retains its charm with tile flooring, private restrooms, and a private bar, all under the warm glow of beautiful lighting fixtures. This venue can comfortably hold up to 300 guests for more intimate gatherings.

Depot 3: Adjacent to the main plaza and water fountain, Depot 3 is a 3,600-square-foot private hall. It features two fully renovated bars with modern lighting and a private booth for a DJ or MC. This space can accommodate up to 650 guests, suitable for medium-sized events.

SP Lounge/Depot 4: The SP Lounge, combined with Depot 4, offers 4,000 square feet of versatile event space that can host up to 400 guests. This area is equipped with a built-in stage, speaker system, and dimmable lights, making it an excellent choice for various social and corporate events. The lounge is connected to Depot 4 through barn doors, which features a newly renovated bar, natural light, gorgeous hardwoods, and built-in speakers.

Why Visit The Espee?

It’s a blend of history and modernity in the historic city of San Antonio

The Espee stands out as a seamless blend of San Antonio’s historical heritage and its dynamic present. This venue not only showcases the architectural beauty of the Spanish Mission Revival style, reminiscent of its early days as Sunset Station but also offers state-of-the-art facilities for a variety of modern events. Its transformation from a key railroad hub to a premier cultural venue encapsulates the city’s evolution, making it an essential experience for anyone interested in the story of San Antonio.

It has diverse event offerings

Whether you’re a music enthusiast eager to catch live performances or someone looking for a unique spot for private gatherings, The Espee caters to all tastes. The venue boasts several adaptable spaces like the sprawling Espee Plaza and the cozy Depot 2, each designed to enhance visitor experiences with their distinct features—from lush outdoor settings with murals and fountains to elegantly appointed interiors.

Visitors had positive feedback about the venue

Visitors frequently commend The Espee for its exceptional combination of historic ambiance and modern convenience. Testimonials often highlight the venue’s versatility in hosting diverse events, the quality of performances, and its proximity to other local attractions, which makes it a perfect addition to any San Antonio itinerary.

Final Word

The Espee, once known as Sunset Station, captures the spirit of San Antonio’s history while serving as a lively center for modern events. It blends old charm with new life, making it a great place for both locals and tourists to visit. Whether you’re there to enjoy a concert, explore its history, or attend a special event, The Espee offers a memorable experience for everyone. Its role as a key cultural spot in San Antonio makes it a must-see destination.

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