Thursday Doors – Windsor Locks Train Station

I think there’s a door back there

That’s the fourth and most obvious attempt at a title. I tried “potential doors” and I tried “zombie doors” and I gave serious thought to “the phoenix of doors” except, we actually have a building in Hartford that is The Phoenix Building, so…

The problem with these doors is that they aren’t there. They are either covered with plywood or they have been replaced by plywood. On the other hand, the building is being restored. Don’t ask me who’s paying for the restoration, how long it will continue or what we’re going to do with the building after it’s restored, but it’s being restored and that’s a good thing. Actually, when you consider the following excerpt from the National Registry of Historic Places Nomination form in 1975. I think you might agree, it’s an amazing thing:

The Windsor Locks Redevelopment Agency recently voted to acquire the station with tentative plans for its demolition.”

At that time, the building was mostly closed to the public and it’s official status was described as:

The building is used by the railroad’s signal department; they have a workshop in one small corner of the structure. The platform is used by passengers awaiting trains. Restoration has been limited to some repainting being done by the railroad.”

The “railroad” would have been the Penn Central, one of the last grand railroads in this country to go out of business and force Congress to create AMTRAK. AMTRAK already existed in the early 70s, but it didn’t yet own any railroad right of ways or rolling stock. Some of the remaining railroads, the Penn Central included, were convinced that AMTRAK would fail. By 1976, Congress stepped in more forcefully, creating Conrail, a consolidated railroad mainly for freight, and transferred rights of way, rolling stock and stations along the Northeast Corridor to AMTRAK.

In retrospect, the addition of this station into the Historic Registry probably saved it from destruction. AMTRAK became the owner of the building, but eventually abandoned it as a train station and moved that function to a concrete siding about two miles south of this building.

The station continued to deteriorate until 2004. AMTRAK and the Connecticut Department of Transportation had decided to double-down on the concrete siding by connecting it with a pedestrian bridge to an Interstate Highway Park-and-Ride lot nearly across the street from the “station” location. Those plans never came to fruition, but they remained the plan.

An arson attempt in 2000 almost destroyed the station. That may have been the impetus for the formation of a preservation association whose goal was to purchase and repurpose the station.

Fundraising, planning, infighting and some further-damage-prevention repairs ensued. The group negotiated, unsuccessfully, to move the station stop back to the historic station. AMTRAK and the CT DoT wanted no part of that plan and the Preservation Association disbanded.

Once it starts, everybody wants some of the credit.

In 2011, the Town of Windsor Locks began negotiating directly with AMTRAK and the State of CT. Plans were being made to begin a light-rail service between Springfield, MA and New Haven, CT. Where AMTRAK currently runs 6-8 trains a day, CT Light Rail will operate 16-18 trains a day, beginning in 2018. AMTRAK sold the station to the town, and while the light rail will begin service at the existing concrete siding, service will eventually move to a new concrete siding just north of the old station. That station is being restored.

Today, this is an unfinished story, a building under renovation and plywood covered doors. Hopefully, in the not-to-distant future, there will be functioning doors leading into a beautifully restored station. I’ll keep you informed.

This post is part of Norm Frampton’s fun series called Thursday Doors. Each week, door lovers from around the world bring forth a collection of doors to share with each other and admire. If you want to join us, take your train to Norm’s place, admire his doors and look for the conductor masquerading as a blue frog. Click him and enter a terminal full of doors. Beneath the main gallery are some photos from the National Registry of Historic Places Nomination form.

About Dan Antion

Husband, father, woodworker, cyclist, photographer, geek - oh wait, I’m writing this like I only have 140 characters. I am all those things, and more, and all of these passions present me with opportunities to observe, and think about things that I can’t write about in other places. I have started this blog to catch the stuff that falls out, overflows and just plain doesn’t fit the other containers in my life.
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60 Responses to Thursday Doors – Windsor Locks Train Station

  1. dp7954 says:

    Now, you are talking – Train Stations – Love them. Funnily enough, on my model railroad, the station is boarded up and there is a concrete platform for the passengers.I wonder where I got that idea from?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. reocochran says:

    This is a gorgeous building, Dan. I like the way you struggled with a title and zombie doorsills be an awesome title. I sound a little hyped up on caffeine, but soon clocking in at work.
    Brick, wooden door in first shot and the long shot with blue glow in the roof were all great features in this doors post. Happy Thursday to you! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      I’m glad you liked this, Robin. I wanted to capture the progress they have made. It’s hard to gauge where this project is heading, but at least it looks like the building will be made safe against the weather.

      Like

  3. Joanne Sisco says:

    That design of train station is so iconic, it would be a shame to lose any that still remain. This is a good news story that it’s being restored … finally.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      I am happy to see it being restored. The Association that tried to do this in 2004, was very badly managed and the person in charge alienated a lot of people who wanted to help. AMTRAK has sold the station to the town, but it can never be used as a train station. They have agreed to move the “station” from the south end of town to near this station. I think this station is too close to a major intersection to let the train safely stop and load/unload passengers.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think ‘Phoenix Doors’ is very appropriate, Dan. Your photos cheered me up no end, today, as they reminded me of the new roof we put on our own renovation project. It’s great to see old buildings being restored like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed this, Jean. It is so good not to have already lost this, either to “urban renewal” or the ill-effects of nature over time, or fire. Hopefully, they get it into a beautiful state again and find a good use for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. loisajay says:

    wow.That is some kind of project they have taken on. It will be beautiful once it is completed, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. marianallen says:

    What a beautiful building! I’m so happy it’s being restored — I’m looking forward to seeing the progress through your photos. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Almost Iowa says:

    I hate to see those old beautiful buildings deteriorate.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. LOL, Zombie Doors has quite a ring to it, Dan. I think you chose well though. Have a thriving Thursday! Mega hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Teagan. I hope any of the remaining original doors can join the ranks of undead doors and not be replaced with an entrance door from Home Depot (which is what I think I see in one of the pictures from the 80s). Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is going to be quite beautiful when it’s done. Thanks and I hope we get progress reports.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love, love, love these old iconic buildings and hearing that this one is being restored makes my morning a bit brighter. Of course, all the does cost a pretty penny, so I understand when it doesn’t/can’t happen, even more lovely when it does.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Janet. Of course, the cost increases every year they wait/waited, but we won’t go there. They are moving forward now. They all put their name on the board and they all seem to be saying “I’ve always thought this was a good idea.” Oh well, politicians, so… I love this building, but I wonder about them moving the train station near this area. There isn’t much in the way of parking available. The current station has a large free lot. Still, if this is what it takes to get everyone on board (pun intended) I’m good with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Norm 2.0 says:

    Oh the potential…let’s hope they get the job done. I love it when old buildings are saved, as long as it can be done cost effectively of course.
    Will keep an eye out for your updates on this Dan :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Norm. I hope to return on a future Thursday, showing off restored original doors. Or at least nice reproduction doors. They seem to be doing quality work with the roof and dormers. That’s a good sign.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. GP Cox says:

    After seeing so many wonderful doors here, this was a shock! Zombie doors or those time forgot would be a good title, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Yeah, “the sad state of doors” would have worked. You really have to look hard to see the potential restoration of a couple original doors, and I doubt they will have to money to do that. Hopefully, they will at least be guided by history when they get around to replacing the doors. I hope to revisit this place in the not too distant future and show off some sweet doors!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. joey says:

    I love how you’ve included old photos along with your new shots. Train stations are just so iconic! :) The decorative overhangs, what would we call those? They’re fancier than braces, seem too big to call corbels — is there a more apt word? Those are gorgeous. I hope they restore it with the same detail, but I’m glad they’re giving some attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed this and I stand with you in the hope that they restore it well. Given the good job the did on the dormers, I think there’s a good chance.

      As for a better description, they called the “struts” in the nomination document.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. jesh stg says:

    Sad story about the unfinished building! But I love the overhang of the roof decor!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. jesh stg says:

    Just needed to add this – you managed to find “a story” again – hope at some point you write (more than blog stories)- you’re a natural!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. They cause your imagination to kick in which is always a good thing. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Paul says:

    Quite a round-up of pics there, Dan! Reminds me of the ones I see posted in my train station when I’m setting out for work every day. There are several color shots, of course, but also some B&W ones going back over a hundred years. Pretty cool stuff. Trains just never get old — and if they do, you need a wake-up call à la the Twilight Zone episode “Kick the Can”!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. amoralegria says:

    It reminds me of a church I saw once that used to have a “death’s door” leading to the cemetery outside. The door no longer exists but you can see where it was covered over! Hey, maybe I should use that picture for Thursday Doors!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Repurposing this building would be lovely! They make good restaurants, stores, and art studios. You should buy it and open a woodworking studio for you and Faith!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I hope that Station gets a happy ending. Those dormers, and braces are nice looking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      I was happy to see that the dormers, which were in really bad shape, have been restored. They tore them back to the bare structure and rebuilt them. That gives me a good feeling about the work going forward.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Looks like I’m not alone in appreciating your eye for overlooked details. Sure hope the restoration is followed through to completion. I wonder what the completed door will look like?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks! I hope they find some way of creating a reproduction door, similar to what would have been there originally. It would have been function over form, so it shouldn’t have to be too expensive. I think the doors on the side (under the plywood) might be original, so maybe they can take a cue from those.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. dweezer19 says:

    Can’t wait to see the “after” photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Glynis Jolly says:

    I think I like the old building better than the new one.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I love when old buildings, once slated to be destroyed, are actually repaired. I hope they make it into something lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      The urban renewal folks in the 60s and 70s leveled most of the buildings around the former downtown area. Now, the town is trying to bring it back. This station is a key point, but I’m not sure how much good it can do. Still, I’m very happy that they are saving it.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. These old train stations are so beautiful and such symbols of the American past. I’m so glad it’s getting renovated. It’s easy to see its potential in your photos, Dan. I’m looking forward to the future post when the project is done. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Wow–such a slender thread on which to hang the survival of a piece of history. I’m glad it looks like this one will have a happy ending. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Love old train stations restored to their glory…such an important part of our history!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      This one looks like its going to dodge the wrecking ball and get a nicely restored look. They did a great job on the front dormers. They are working on the back ones now. I can’t wait until the wall, windows and doors get some attention.

      Like

  28. sharukhbamboat says:

    When I see train stations so empty or probably with just a few people around I feel so weird. Mainly because we here are so used to seeing train stations packed with people like a swarm of bees. I have been on train stations at very late hours and still, I find we have more people than yours at peak hours. In Mumbai, train stations will make you feel as if you’re a part of a Civil Unrest just waiting to happen. However, I loved the images and I would love to explore such places if given the opportunity.

    Liked by 1 person

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