Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bremen Depot: part II

Second in a series on the Bremen Depot in celebration for its rededication Sunday, May 1st.

Having a new depot constructed by the railroad was termed a “long dream” by the town when a committee of business men met with high officials of the railroad in 1928. By the end of this meeting railroad officials had given their “unqualified assurance” that the company would build a new depot that would be considered “modern and adequate”. Work would start as soon as plans presented by the railroad were modified based upon suggestions by the committee at the meeting. The plans presented by the railroad appear to have been proposed to the town prior to the meeting and were referred to as “original plans of several years ago”. It is unclear why the railroad had not constructed the depot prior to this time. The original drawing of the depot as proposed by the railroad was virtually identical to what was constructed with the exception of porticos constructed on each side over the entries.

It appears that the town of Bremen requested the addition of the porticos, probably for the purpose of sheltering passengers entering and exiting the building. No doubt the town also adhered to the thought proposed by Clay Lancaster in his book Waiting for the 5:05: Terminal, Station and Depot in America, “The train station was the image of the community, presenting at a glance something about its size, affluence, livelihood and social range of its citizens, their taste in architecture.” It appears the townspeople took image seriously when the portico additions were made to the original drawings. A newspaper article stated that the new depot would compare favorably with anything else located on the rail line. The appearance of the building was positively commented on in succeeding newspaper articles as well as its superior and virtually fire-proof construction. A review of other buildings constructed in the community at the time of the depot’s design and construction shows only one in a comparative style and level of detail found in the depot. If the committee of business men were looking for a visual precedent from which to draw inspiration for the addition of the porticos the bank building at the southwest corner of Plymouth and Center Streets may have provided this. It was constructed only a few years previously in a neoclassical design with fluted columns flanking the front entry. It was restored and now serves as the town hall.

There has been no success in making a determination of who designed the depot. The name R Ramsay Smith with a copyright mark is located on the original rendering of the depot prior to the inclusion of porticos (1928); however Smith may have only been responsible for the rendering. In an article written about the dedication of the depot RF Everet was listed as one of the railroad officials, and as the Building Engineer located out of the B&O Railroad’s Garrett office. However, it is indeterminate if Everet was the design engineer or a supervising engineer for the railroad. During the period in which the Bremen depot was redesigned and constructed the B&O Railroad’s Chief Engineer was HA Lane, their Engineer of Building was LP Kimball, and their Engineer of Construction was AM Kinsman. The B&O Railroad used the term “Engineer of Buildings” for the head of their design division, but it is indeterminate if Kimball designed the Bremen depot, though he has been credited with the design of other depots. Both Lane and Kimball are referenced in these positions as early as 1922 and Kinsman as early as 1905.

Construction began on the new passenger depot in April, 1929 by a local contractor, S. G. Lehr; the old depot was to be used as a freight house. The new depot was dedicated on October 22, 1929. The dedication was a formal event with high-ranking representatives from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, local officials, and American Radiator officials. The Bremen Kiwanis Club organized the event that included a brief tour of the town, speeches, music, and a banquet at the Arco Hotel. The depot’s use followed the declining use of the railroad as the automobile became the preferred method of transportation. The new depot served the town for forty years with passenger service until it ceased in 1971 and was used only as a railroad office. That use ended in 1987 with the transfer of the railroad’s last station manager from this location, Melvere Sheley. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad retained its identity until 1986; the railroad through Bremen is an active line currently operated by CSX.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My father ran the grain elevator "Long's Elevator", next to the depot. I remember once as a child, dad having a passenger train flagged at the depot so I could go for my firt ride (I was a special guest on the train). We road it east to the depot in syracuce or warsaw..just remember getting to ride with my dad.