National Register Nomination Information:
Union Station is situated at the south end of Main Street in Brattleboro, Vermont. The main block of the structure is generally rectangular in plan. An attached rectangular baggage room extends to the south. The structure is terraced into a slope so the main (west) elevation appears to be one story while the fenestration of the trackside (east) elevation reveals a basement and two stories. The structure is surmounted by a hip roof sheathed with slate and the walls are constructed of rough cut locally quarried stone blocks laid up in a random fashion.
A gable peaked entrance pavilion is located in the center of the main (west) elevation. This structure is punctuated by three wood entrance doors, overhung by an ornamental steel frame chain supported canopy with glass infill, surmounted by an arched transom light. A stone bearing the date 1915 is located near the apex of the pavilion gable. The gable is trimmed with a cut stone coping.
Two large rectangular double windows each with a cut stone sill and flat arch lintel flank the pavilion. A fifth window of the same design is located on the building setback leading to the baggage room.
The functional trackside (rear or east) elevation is punctuated by randomly placed rectangular windows each corresponding to the interior organization. A concrete based oriel window located at the second floor level, was originally constructed for use by the train dispatcher and telegrapher.
The most significant interior space is the main waiting room which is entered directly from the entrance pavilion, This large room with red tile floor, high moulded ceilings, and oak trimming has as its most prominent feature a central staircase made of cut marble which rises through a large archway. This feature originally led to the ticket office and train platforms Sometime after train service was discontinued in 1966, the flyover which led from this staircase to the tracks was removed and the entrance bricked up. This feature was successfully exploited when the structure was adapted to community center, to become a central stage.
Union Station is representative of the last generation of major railroad passenger station architecture to be constructed in Vermont. The building was built for the Central Vermont and Boston and Maine Railroads by the H. Wales Lines Company of Meriden, Connecticut for a cost of $75,000 in 1915-1916.
Upon its dedication, Union Station was very favorably received by the Town of Brattleboro as evidence in the following account in the Daily Reformer of August 12, 1916:
"...the new station is a structure in which the community can take pride, and the public salutes the railroad companies for erecting a station that is a credit to everybody, one that is attractive, enduring, thoroughly modern and built in a first class manner."
The station is a prominent architectural landmark in downtown Brattleboro and in addition serves as a visual reminder of the railroad which was a major determinant for the town's settlement and growth.
In 1966 plans called for demolishing the station for a parking lot. As a result of a cooperative effort between concerned residents and the Town of Brattleboro, the building underwent adaptive reuse for a museum and art center. In the fall of 1973, Amtrak renewed the basement floor as a depot for its newly established Vermont rail passenger service.
Brattleboro Daily Reformer, August 12, 1916.
DATE ENTERED: June 7, 1974.
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