Historic Structures

New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Passenger Station, Stamford Connecticut

Date added: July 18, 2016 Categories: Connecticut Train Station

Stamford Railroad Station in Stamford, Connecticut was built by the New York Division of the New York, New Haven & Hartford (NY,NH&H) Railroad in 1896 as a passenger station on the new four-track mainline. The NY ,NH&H Railroad began an expansion program in the late 19th century which included the elimination of grade crossings between Woodlawn Junction and New Haven and construction of new passenger stations. The Stamford Station was one of these new stations.

The architect of the station has not been identified, but there seems to have been a standard design utilized with minor variations at several other NY, NH&H line station depots, such as at Port Chester, Mamaroneck and New Rochelle, NY, and at South Norwalk and Westport, Connecticut. William A. Thomas of Rye, New York was the builder of the twin Stamford Stations for a total cost of $31,400. The design and layout conforms to design specifications in use at the time and those recommended by the American Railroad Engineering Association.

In October 1907 Stamford became the terminus for the first U.S. mainline electrically-operated passenger train service when the NY, NH&H Railroad was electrified between Woodlawn, New York and this point. Steam locomotives were attached to all trains going east beyond Stamford. This designation as a terminus was important to the economic growth of Stamford as a regional center in southwestern Connecticut. The superior commuting service of the electrified line was cited in 1929 as directly contributing to a doubling of Stamford's population between 1905 and 1925, and a trebling of the number of commuters using the Stamford Station. Even when electrification was completed beyond Stamford to New Haven in 1910, the station remained a terminus of the electrically operated suburban train service from New York City. It continues to serve today as an important stop for both Metronorth suburban and Amtrak intercity service.

A noteworthy feature of the station is the location of comparable station functions in a pair of nearly identical buildings on opposite sides of the tracks; the south side is for eastbound (New Haven) traffic; the north side is for westbound (New York) traffic. One low-level platform served passengers in each, direction. Each building was capable of independent operation, including ticket sales. The buildings are sited in an offset relationship and linked by a subway passageway located between the near ends of the buildings. The subway is accessible only from stairways outside the buildings.

While it was not unusual for a railroad to provide buildings on both sides of the tracks, it was unusual to provide full passenger services in each of those structures. Almost always, the direction with the least originating patronage had a smaller structure than the other direction; the larger building usually contained all the main functional spaces such as the ticket office, baggage and express rooms, toilets and main waiting space while the smaller contained only a secondary waiting space. It may be assumed that two comparable buildings were built at Stamford at that time because originating traffic was, or anticipated to be, of the same magnitude in both directions.

The station consists of two rectangular brick buildings with hipped roofs. Two brick beltcourses circle the building; one along the spring line of the arches of the first floor masonry arches, and a second along the sill line of the segmental windows.

Each building contains a symmetrical waiting room extending from the street side to the track side. Circulation from the waiting room to trains is through doors near the ends of the longitudinal sides of the space. Between the doors, on the track side is an enclosed ticket office built within the volume of the waiting room.

On the track side of the ticket office is a projecting window bay. This bay is a typical feature of small railroad stations and served to provide a line of sight along the tracks in each direction. It also usually contained a telegraph station for the announcement of train arrivals and departures. A pedimented gable is located directly above the projecting bay.

Each building had toilets and baggage rooms flanking the waiting rooms. Space was also provided for train operations, with trainmen's bunkrooms, lockers and police centers in adjacent rooms. Each building also contains a second floor, although the segmental windows on the exterior are easily mistaken for clerestory windows. The second floor was used for office and storage space.

The major interior materials, in the waiting rooms are wood and glazed brick. There is red oak wainscotting surrounding the room with vertical beaded paneling and fenestration trim The upper walls are of white glazed brick. Both the headed ceilings and cornice are North Carolina pine. The ticket office is entirely of wood with a wainscott similar to the other walls, and with upper walls of shallow recessed panels. All interior woodwork has. been painted a creme color; originally it was stained or naturally finished. The floor surface in the north building is an unusual multicolored, large aggregate terrazzo.

The building exterior is yellow brick with red sandstone base and red sandstone window sills. The cornice and window frames are wood. The buildings were originally unpainted, but now are painted a light green color. The original plans show a slate roof; however, the hip roof was covered with yellow asbestos shingles. The ridge and hipcaps are red terracotta, while the chimneys, also painted, are of red brick.

The original low platforms and canopies were replaced with new high level platforms and canopies in 1972 and 1973. The high platforms have been built across the track side of each building at about sill level. There were canopies above the main entrance doors along the belt course and below the lunette windows. These were in use as late as 1926.

On all but the street elevations the original cornice of both buildings has been replaced with an extended eave and the second floor windows covered with plywood panels. A brick addition in the street elevation of the eastbound (north side) building, used as a bank branch office, has replaced the three central windows in that facade.

The interior of the north building has been altered by che addition of new concessions, particulary a newstand and lunch counter into the space formerly used as a trainmen's rest area. Other concessions include a branch bank and shoeshine stand.

The interior of the south building remains almost identical to the original plan. The structure was used as a bus depot from 1945 to 1973 by the Greyhound, Trailways and the Connecticut Bus Companies.