The Thomaston Railway Station, built in 1881, was part of the Naugatuck Railroad which began operations in September of 1849. The building served as a railway station until 1958, but then suffered from years of neglect and an arson fire in 1993. Since 1999, the station has been the home base of the Railroad Museum of New England, which now operates the Naugatuck Railroad, a scenic train ride between Waterville and Thomaston.
The railroad came to Naugatuck in 1849 and by the turn-of-the-century the lines through town were owned by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. When the time came to design a new and larger railway station, John H. Whittemore, Naugatuck’s great manufacturer and philanthropist, who had done so much to shape the architecture of the town center according to his vision of a “City Beautiful,” offered to help pay for its construction if he could select the building’s architect. Whittemore, who was also director of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad, commissioned Henry Bacon to design the station, which was constructed between 1908 and 1910. The style of the building has been described as Spanish Colonial Revival, but also as Italian Villa style. Although trains still stop at a newer station nearby, the old station closed in the mid-1960s. Used for a time as a newspaper plant by the Naugatuck Daily News, the building has more recently been restored and converted into a museum by the Naugatuck Historical Society.
Another historic Connecticut train station of the 1870s is the Wallingford Railroad Station, built in 1871 by the Hartford & New Haven Railroad on the Springfield Line. With its distinctive Mansard roof and decorative brackets, both elements of the Second Empire style, the Wallingford Station remains a prominent local landmark, located near where Hall and Quinnipiac Avenues intersect with Colony Street. Although the inside of the building has not been open as a station selling tickets since 1991, it remains an active Amtrak station. Owned by the town since 1964, the the station‘s interior was redesigned in the 1970s and the roof and exterior restored in the early 1990s. A number of businesses and organizations have been located in the station over the years. Most recently, it has housed the Wallingford Adult Education Program and the basement has been used by the New Haven Society of Model Engineers. Wallingford is also home to the Peters Rail Road Museum.
The Windsor Locks Preservation Association was formed in 2004 with a main focus of preserving the old Windsor Locks Train Station, which is currently vacant and in a deteriorating condition, having survived arson in 2000. Built in 1875, the station was originally painted cream-yellow, but a thorough cleaning in the 1940s has since left the building‘s red brick exposed. The station was closed in 1971 and saved from demolition by the The Save The Station Committee, which successfully applied to have the building placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
This week we look at buildings in Waterbury. Opened in 1909, Waterbury‘s old Union Station building, famous for its striking clock tower, was built by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and was designed by McKim, Mead and White. The 245 foot campanile, or tower, was added to the building at the request of a railroad executive who wanted a copy of the Torre del Mangia, built in 1325-1344 in Sienna, Italy. The tower’s clock, the largest in New England, was made by the Seth Thomas Company and the bell was installed in 1916. The tower features eight she-wolf gargoyles, reminders of the story of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. The former station now houses the offices of the Republican-American newspaper.
When it was built in 1888, New London’s Union Station made a powerful architectural statement with its strong massing. It was planned to integrate New London transportation, which included service by six railroad companies. Unlike the preceding train dept of 1852, Union Station was on the city side of the railroad tracks and blocked the view of the city’s active harbor and busy rail yards from the commercial district on State and Bank Streets. Commissioned in 1885, the station was designed by H.H. Richardson, but was not completed until after his death in 1886. The building represents a variation of his distinctive Romanesque style in a scheme recalling his plan for Harvard’s Sever Hall (1880). It is therefore referred to as Richardson’s “Last Station.” Saved from demolition and renovated in the 1970s, the station has recently been again restored.