Historic Structures

New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Eastbound Passenger Station, Southport Connecticut

Date added: November 5, 2010 Categories: Connecticut Train Station

The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad tracks were laid during 1848-49. The villages relative excitement about their new, direct link with urban centers is reflected in Jonathan Bulkley's diary, January 3, 1849: I "went to New York today in the morning train - the New Haven and & New York Railroad is underway & it is said that over 1000 passengers pass over it daily." The greatest impact the coming of the railroad had upon the people of Southport was in their harbor economy. Rail travel made passenger and trade transport by boat less convenient, economical, and therefore desirable. However, while the Mill River harbor witnessed a decline in merchant traffic, it serviced an increasing number of pleasure craft. To the present day, Southport's harbor and the Pequot Yacht Club are the village's liveliest intersection.

On May 15, 1884 the Fairfield "Advertiser" stated, "Southport wants and needs a new depot, right away quickly." Two days later, the need had become much more urgent. The village's board-and-batten passenger station trimmed with Gothic tracery was struck by sparks from a passing train and burned to the ground. By June construction on the new depot was underway. Throughout the year, the "Advertiser" published reports of the builders' progress.

The railroad company hired a New Haven builder to erect the new passenger station. The Fairfield "Advertiser" reported on May 29, 1884, "The contract for the new brick depot was awarded to W.B. Dickerman, of New Haven, for $6500."

This rectangular one-and-a-half story brick structure is built upon a brick foundation with load bearing brick walls. The expansive surface of the main gable roof projects beyond the exterior wall, creating a wide eave overhang. At the gable ends, the eave is supported by sawed wooden brackets which receive their leverage from the wall itself. Openwork wooden vergeboards are attached to the plain raking cornice. A bulky pent roof supported by heavy brackets projects from the wall at the second level. (Because of the pent roof's awkward appearance and structural framing, it is quite possible that the roof is a later addition.) Two metal ventilators and a brick chimney with corbelling pierce the roof surface. A polyganol bay window is located on each side elevation. The bay on the track side is used as the Station Agent's office. Interior surfaces are of wood and plaster, and plainly appointed.