Historic Structures

Bronxville Railroad Station, Bronxville New York

Date added: August 1, 2016 Categories: New York Train Station Mission Revival

Prior to the arrival of the railroads, Westchester County was a series of small independent communities separated by farmland and rural estates. The opening of rail lines connecting the towns and villages of Westchester with New York City was to irrevocably change the character of this county. On April 25, 1831, the New York and Harlem Railroad was incorporated with a planned run between New York City and the town of Harlem in northern Manhattan. Service to White Plains was soon inaugurated. rt was the advent of reliable train service between Westchester and New York City that brought about the suburban development of the county. The original railroads were modest single-track lines with small wooden stations. As demand for service increased the rail lines were widened, tracks added, and imposing new stations erected. Most of the stations now in use In Westchester date from the last years of the nineteenth century or the first decades of the twentieth century; all of Westchester's Harlem Line stations south of White Plains date from the early twentieth century.

What is now the village of Bronxvilie in the town of Kastohester was primarily farm land until the arrival of the railroads. In the mid nineteenth century, the land in Bronxville and neighboring communities began to be divided into estates with substantial houses such as Crow's Nest, the Bronxville villa of painter Francis Edmonds. Bronxville became a convenient location for estates following the opening of a railroad station in 1848 (the original station was a combination depot, post office, and store). Major suburban development did not begin in Bronxville until 1890 when William Van Duzer Lawrence purchased an 86 acre tract of land immediately to the east of the railroad station, with the intention of subdividing it for residential development. Lawrence Park proved to he a successful venture, attracting well-to-do people to the large houses set amidst winding streets and landscaped plots. Bronxville grew at a rapid pace and in 1898 was incorporated as a separate village in the town of Eastchester. In 1897, Lawrence commissioned the design of the Gramatan Hotel built on a hill overlooking the railroad tracks. After a fire, the hotel was rebuilt in 1905 in the Mission Revival style. The prominence of the Gramatan (demolished) led to the construction of other Mission Revival style buildings in Bronxville and the Mission Revival became a style associated with the town. The train station is one of the most prominent of these later Mission Revival style buildings.

The Bronxville Station is a stuccoed, Mission Revival style building that, on the exterior, looks very much as it did when it was completed. Alterations have been limited primarily to the fenestration. The interior has had more extensive alterations. The main entrances to the station lead to a double height concourse. To the north of the concourse was a rectangular waiting room with built-in benches on its east and west walls. The entry arch between the concourse and waiting room contained a built-in telephone booth on each side. At the north end of the waiting room was a central passage leading out of the building. This passage was flanked by the women's toilet to the left and a bootblack room and newsstand to the right. To the south of the concourse were the ticket and telegraph office, a small public space, an express office, and several closets. Beyond these, at the south end of the building, were the express and baggage rooms. To the west of the concourse were the men's toilet and a Western Union telegraph office.

In 1974, a bank converted the former waiting room into a banking space. Among the alterations that apparently occurred to the station at this time are: the removal of the women's toilet, passage, bootblack room, and newsstand at the north end of the building and the conversion of these areas and the adjacent waiting room into a bank; the removal of the telephone booths and the addition of a glass screen and door with aluminum frame between the concourse and the former waiting room; the closing up of the waiting room windows and doors on the west and north elevations and the removal of a small entrance on the east elevation; the construction of a new women's room in the former Western Onion office; the reconfiguration of the ticket office, express office, baggage room, and express room, with the former baggage room and ticketoffice becoming the present waiting room (one of the benches from the old waiting room was moved Lo the east wall of the present waiting room), the removal of the original ticket windows and the conversion of this space into the arched entrance to the present waiting room, the division of the express room into a ticket office and small commercial space (now a cash machine outlet), and the conversion of the express office into another small commercial space. Only the original public space and a closet in the south wing are extant.

The Bronxville Station is a one-story structure, although the central concourse level with its hexagonal clerestory creates a two-story volume in the center of the building. The height of the north end of the building (including the original women's room, bootblack room, and newsstand) is lower than that of the rest of the building. The shape of the building is a rectangle with one corner cut out. The building measures 92'4" long on its east and west facades, 35'10" wide on the south facade, and 20'6" wide on the north facade.