Thursday Doors – Baltimore Bang

Entrance and lamps for Joey

Norm is taking a break from Thursday Doors for two weeks, beginning next week, and I think I’ll join him. I’m not sure if I’ll post anything instead of Thursday Doors, but I’m hoping the hiatus gives me a chance to add some new doors to my inventory. The ongoing construction project is cutting deep into my doorscurrsion time.

If you’re wondering about the title, it just means that before closing the door (pun intended) on these posts, I thought I’d go out with a bang. I have been saving the best doors from my recent trip to Baltimore – Baltimore Pennsylvania Station – so that’s what you get today. Once again, I’ve turned to the No Facilities research department (Wikipedia) for information on Penn (as it’s known) Station.

Penn Station was built in 1911 for the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). As the PRR started to decline, so did the condition of many of their station assets. AMTRAK was formed in 1971, to consolidate passenger rail service in the US, and has always focused a good amount of attention (and its all too limited funds from our penny-pinching Congress) on the Northeast Corridor (Boston to Washington, D.C.) which is the heaviest traveled segment (and one that may actually turn a profit). As part of the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project, the station was restored to its 1911 appearance in 1984. Today, Baltimore Penn Station is the eighth-busiest rail station in the United States by number of passengers served each year.

Our research team also discovered a nice entry in the archives of the National Registry of Historic Places (NRHP), which tells us:

The present site of Penn Station was first occupied by the local Northern Central Railway’s Union Station. Built in 1873, it was enlarged in 1882 upon completion of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad line. In 1884 the Pennsylvania Railroad purchased the Northern Central’s Baltimore franchise thus establishing a continuous link among the cities of the eastern seaboard. The following year it completely rebuilt Union Station; but by 1906, the Station could no longer adequately serve the growing number of trains passing through Baltimore. The station facilities were called ‘primitive and inconvenient’ by the Commission to Improve Railroad Facilities in Baltimore.

Penn Station was built in a subdued Beaux-Arts Classicism style. It is approximately six stories in height and about seventeen bays wide. The structural steel frame is enveloped by granite and terra cotta on the exterior, and Sicilian marble, terrazzo and decorative iron and leaded glass on the interior. The middle seven bays of the building project creating a tripartite plan consisting of a center section with a wing at each side. The station has a low hipped roof partially concealed by the balustrade on the wing sections and the parapet on the center section. The ridge of the roof runs parallel to the facade. The ashlar masonry is laid in regular courses, with an alternating course of long narrow blocks at the ground story level on the wing sections.”

The station was originally named Union Station, but it’s location doesn’t allow it to serve all the rail lines in the area. This fact is one that I understand personally, as I had to take a small shuttle train to a different station, in order to catch a Baltimore Light Rail train to my hotel. During its early history, there were several attempts to relocate this station, so that it could serve all trains. These attempts failed, and in 1928, the name was changed to Pennsylvania Station.

I would normally stop with a couple of paragraphs from the NRHP Nomination Form, but I thought I’d add a little nostalgia for readers who are my age, and what must seem like a bit of science fiction for the younger readers. The authors of the Nomination Form thought it important to include:

In 1957 the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company in cooperation, with Pennsylvania Railroad installed a telephone room on the east side of the station near the taxi stands. It was the most modern and largest installation in the country at the time, containing 17 booths, one with a hearing aid with push-button volume control. The room also had telephone directories from all major U.S. cities.”

Take that Internet!

As we enjoy our last week of Thursday Doors before Norm’s summer break, I’d like to thank the curator of the Internet’s largest installation of interesting doors for providing this opportunity to us each week. This is such a wonderful place to visit, to share and stare at doors from all over the world! I hope Norm finds a cool and comfy place to relax, and I hope Little Blue Frog finds a lily pad with an abundant supply of flies nearby. Be sure to check out Norm’s doors!

There are a few extra photos from the NRHP nomination form.


  1. That looks like a fantastic place, especially for photos. I love all the marble and brass. Wow, but weren’t they progressive with the bank of pay phones? Visionaries…
    I wish you continued success with the garage project, Dan.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love the elevator door and the memory of a telephone room. I can only imagine what grade schoolers today would think if they saw a telephone room. Their heads would explode trying to figure out what the heck it was. :-) Enjoy the break, and I’ll be looking forward to construction updates. :-)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love that this wonderful old building was restored with it’s original look and feel. The photo of those ornate wooden seats at the Dunkin’ Donuts is what catches my eye with the large globe lights. I’m so glad that someone didn’t come along and decide to rip them out in favour of those horrible things found in airports.

    If feel sorry for the poor solitary pay phone. The phone room got seriously demoted!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Joanne. I don’t know the timing, but planners were badly ridiculed for the mess they made of NY Penn Station. So maybe Amtrak took a lesson from that. Most of the other stations on the NE Corridor are nicely restored or have been maintained all along.

      The phone room did take a hit.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Like many public building of that era this is one classy looking station. So many subtly beautiful touches and design elements it’s impossible to not notice; they just don’t build like this anymore.
    Thanks for the great shout-out and your tremendous continued support Dan. “See you” in a few weeks :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Norm. I think what I like most about Thursday Doors is how it has encouraged me to pay attention to the beautiful buildings I pass at home and when in the road.

      Enjoy the break!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This place is fabulous! The main entrance is a beauty coming and going. That letterbox, love it! The office doors backed by wallpaper is outstanding. The surviving pay phone. The beautiful seating area.

    But the one constant theme in all of your photos is how pristine it looks. Amazing.

    Enjoy your Doors break and I hope we see lots of DIY updates, with Maddie and MiMi supervising of course!
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ginger. On a short break right now. I love the old railroad stations, especially the benches. I can’t pass up a letterbox. I feel bad for those state-of-the-art pay phones, but that ship has sailed.


  6. What a beautiful place, Dan. I imagine the sound of heels clacking on those floors–I do love that sound. Pay phones….They will always be some kind of special, won’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reminds me of the 30th Street Station in Philly. Those old train stations were just marvelously beautiful. Makes me happy just to see them, both outside and inside. Phone booths? Push buttons? Ha! Love it!


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Thank you for including the letter box — I love them! What a gorgeous building! The only thing you can say about modern buildings is it won’t be a shame to tear one down.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love all that stone, brass, and wood. I wouldn’t be able to resist that mailbox either. It’s neat looking.

    I thought the description about the phones was wonderfully written, and might make a great opening for a mystery book or something.

    I adore old black and white movies from the 40’s when someone ducked into a phone booth; an old wood box type. I’m thinking Cary Grant. Gosh, men were dapper then with their suits, and Fedoras. Ah, waxing nostalgic and I wasn’t around in that era. 😊

    Phone books are still useful to me. I keep our local one.

    Enjoy your mini break from Thursday Doors. I’m looking forward to your return already.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh wow, the phone booth! Happy don’t have to do that anymore while traveling!
    Since many of the All Seasoners already have taken their vacation, I’m continuing it for now, but I won’t do my weekly posts for two weeks -so, have a great two weeks and see ya after that!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Have you ever seen people working at their laptops in these stations? I was just thinking it might be a good place to write with all the seating and it being quiet in between arrivals and leaves.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That place is super pretty, as any old train station in a big city should be. The first doors are lovely, but you know, it’s the framing, the brick, ooh, the brick! Love the elevator doors, too, but I’d also skip it for the stairs. The lamps are striking, (thank you!) and match the details in the architecture, like the brackets very well. Who can pass up a letterbox?!? And the wallpaper got me — I was all WOW on those “reflections” haha! Great place for doors to go this week.
    I’m looking forward to the break as well :)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Amazing photos, Dan. Because of your blog, I look at buildings differently and I particularly check out the doors. It’s quite an architectural adventure! All the best to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You still found doors in Baltimore! And I know these too:)
    Train stations are really fascinating. I walked past this one quite a few times with my daughter but only went inside once and not to board a train. Some professors at Johns Hopkins are daily or bi weekly commuters. Trains allow them to live either in the country or in NYC.
    Your photos honor the building.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for saying that. The building is so interesting. The northeast corridor service lets people work almost anywhere. I know people in my town that work in NYC. It’s three hours but they make the trip a couple times a week.


  15. Finally, I got some breathing time, so I am here to read your posts and comment. This one looks great, Dan. I no longer see such telephone booths in India, considering that smartphone has become a trend here. There was a time when people in India would stand in a queue to make calls. A train station is a great place to pass time. After I lost my parents (I must be 15-16 years of age), I had no one to talk to especially during the evening hours. So, I would go to the train station and just sit and observe. People boarding and alighting the train. People waiting for someone. People upset with something, people happy about something. Different faces, different emotions. Kids younger than me working polishing shoes of the commuters, teenagers selling newspapers at the stall, people selling snacks and tea. the station master doing his rounds to ensure everything is okay. I mean there is so much happening in a single moment it is overwhelming and interesting at the same time.


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