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 They are either covered with plywood or they have been replaced by plywood.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.
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.