Historic Structures

New London Railroad Station, New London Connecticut

Date added: July 1, 2016 Categories: Connecticut Train Station

This railroad station was designed by H.H. Richardson just before his death. It is one example of Richardson's notable later works of excellent design. Although Richardson died before the building was completed, his associates at Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge probably just finished the original plan Richardson executed.

The exterior has been completely restored to the original 1885 appearance during the 1975 restoration. This was the first recycled Amtrak railroad station in the nation.

This is a very large two and one half story brick building which presently houses facilities for the Penn Central Railroad. The structure occupies an open area at the foot of State Street next to the waterfront. It has a hip roof with low dormers and a chimney each side of a large gable and projecting center section which dominates the side sections of the building. In the center of the massive gabled section is an archway which contains the door and a semi-circular overdoor light. This door is red with lights in each of the two sections and is not the original, edges of the arch are formed of moulded brick which is accentuated by a dentil-like moulding of bricks and beyond this a wide band of bricks laid radially to create a sunburst effect. Window openings throughout the building are arranged in groupings usually of three or four windows. Within the gable sections both front and back the groups of the second story contained within recessed rectangular panels which create each center section containing four recessed frames of three windows each.

On the street side on each side of the central door are a group of four double hung windows with smaller rectangular lights separated by brick mullions. The same type of window openings are on each side of the center section of the street facade. Each of the side sections of the building have additionally two double doors over which are three vertical slot-shaped windows and which are placed on each side of the center section of the building. This same set of vertical windows is found on a larger scale at the center of the gable of the roof where they are surrounded by a complex and fine pattern of radially laid bricks in a field of diagonally laid brickwork, all of which is bounded by three widely separated courses of vertically laid bricks.

The street side of the station was at one time the track side and the track side was the point at which persons entered from their parked vehicles or from the boats at the immediately adjacent piers. However, now that the railroad tracks pass southeast of the station this change has led to some alterations in the southeast side especially. Most noticeable is the bricking in or the boarding up of some of the doors. That is, the appearance of the outside brick suggests that there have been as few as four and as many as six doors on this side. One towards the north end is boarded over on the inside. Another on the south end has been bricked in. Passengers use the door openings of the center section of which there are two. However, the wooden doors here like the ones of the main entrance are replacements. The original doors are found on the side sections and have elaborate iron hinges which are painted red like the rest of the doors and provide a large curved design in low relief.

The organization of windows on this southeast side of the building duplicates that of the central gable of the street facade on the second floor level only. The other groups of windows are smaller in size and in most cases are separated in each group by a central door. The main accent at the ground floor level is a projecting ticket booth which has been painted white and because of its color relates to the rest of the building very awkwardly* This track side also has three verticle windows in the gable of the roof which are surrounded like those of the street side with very interesting brickwork.

About the whole building at the second floor level is a band course of double rows of moulded brick. At this point there is a slight projection of the second story over the first. The cornice consists of brickwork which suggests a band of fluting and then of dentils. And the hipped roof appears to have slate shingles.

The south side of the building has six double-hung windows at the second story level and four at the street level. Changes in the brickwork at the street level give evidence of many alterations at this end of the station. At the north end the building has been extended with a one story addition which is brick and has the form of a lean-to.

The interior has a central waiting room with offices on each side connected by central hallways. The waiting room has a ceiling which extends the full height of the building; this and the hallways have a high wainscot which is now painted over. The ceiling which has exposed wooden beans has also been painted over with a dull color so that it no longer contrasts with the plain plastered walls. The condition of the interior is fair to poor like that of most railroad stations reflecting the decline of the railroads in general.