Building Description Demarest Railroad Depot, Demarest New Jersey

The Demarest Railroad Depot is one and one-half stories, three bays in length and one bay wide, measuring 22 feet by 50 feet with a portico located slightly off-center on the east (track) side. It is constructed of rough-cut brown sandstone masonry with delicate yellow and gray sandstone detailing. A steep sweeping hip roof with flared eaves projects beyond the building footprint six feet on all sides and is interrupted on the east side by the portico. Rafters with decorative tails are exposed under the overhang. The portico stands higher than the depot building and is topped with a slightly flared pyramidal hip roof, belfry, and steeple. The predominant architectural motif is Romanesque Revival as articulated in the windows, doors, and other openings, the heavy rough-cut stone, and decorative features on the exterior and interior. The interior of the depot is a single five-bay long room measuring 18'-7" x 46'-8". Each bay is articulated with exposed wood ceiling trusses that are decoratively adorned with tracery. The central bay, which coincides with the east and west entrances, and the two outer bays, one to the north and one to the south, are equal. The two bays between the outer and central bays are shorter. The current main entrance, articulated with a wood frame angled bay projection, is located off-center on the west elevation.

The main building of the station, set back in elevation from the sweeping overhanging roof, is predominantly multi-shades of brown sandstone except at the corners, which have gray sandstone quoins. The west and east sides are the long sides and the north and south sides are the short sides of the rectangular building mass. A brown sandstone water table and table course with a yellow sandstone belt course define the base of the masonry body of the building. Typically, the masonry openings are detailed with yellow sandstone voussoirs. Each masonry window opening contains two-over-two wood single-hung windows recessed in the masonry opening. These windows have a round head; the top sash is approximately a quarter of the size of the bottom sash and is fixed. The masonry window sills are integral with the belt course.

Gray sandstone corbels, mentioned above, are located at each corner of the building on each elevation, as well as intermittently on the east elevation. Single corbels are located slightly inset from the corners on the north, south and east elevations. The west elevation has ganged corbels, approximately three feet apart from each other. The corbels, positioned in elevation just above the level of the spring of the arch of the window, carry the pendant post and wood bracket that support the roof overhang.

The west facade is the street entrance to the station and faces Park Street. A wood frame angled bay projection, extending from grade to the underside of the roof and located off-center of the building, defines the entrance and breaks the horizontal continuity of the masonry. A wood door set in a wood frame located within the central bay is flanked at each cant by a wood window in wood frames. The six-panel wood door is within a slightly recessed arched surround. The windows are two-over-two single-hung; the upper sash is a quarter of the size of the lower sash and is fixed. Below each window is a wood panel with applied criss-cross stickwork and a wood flower box is fastened to each window sill.

Two gray sandstone former chimneys that are terminated below the roof are located one either side of the entrance bay. Two round arch windows penetrate this elevation. One each located at the south and north ends of the facade, between the corners and the chimneys.

The north facade faces Hardenburgh Avenue. The portico projects from the east side of the building, extending vertically above the roof line. Two openings penetrate the masonry on this facade. One door opening is located at the west end and one window opening at the east end of the facade. The door opening has a stone lintel. The window masonry opening is detailed with yellow sandstone voussoirs. Both openings have been infilled with brown sandstone masonry, recessed in the openings.

The east facade is adjacent to the railroad facing the park and Tenakill pond. A sandstone masonry portico projects beyond the building approximately eight feet interrupting the main roof line. The portico, the focal point of this elevation, is positioned slightly off-center on the facade.

To the north of the portico is a single round-arched masonry window opening. To the south of the portico are ganged window and door openings. The window is in the south position and the door the north position. A dwarf sandstone column, acting as a mullion, separates each opening. The sandstone sill of the window creates the plinth that supports the column. The column components include a base, shaft and capital of multi-shaded yellow sandstone. The column base is composed of, from the plinth, torus, scotia and apophyge moulds. The elongated bell of the capital is unadorned and set between the similarly unadorned neck molding and abacus. The door occupies the position of what was formerly a window opening. The original stone sill was cut and the opening lengthened to accommodate the flush wood door. The door has an arched wood surround and is recessed in the masonry opening.

The five gray sandstone corbels are more randomly placed than those found on the other facades. In addition to the two inset from each corner, a third one is located between the window and portico on the north end of the building, and two others are located each side of the ganged window and door south of the portico.

The south facade overlooks a small area of plantings. Three ganged round arched masonry window openings are located in the center of the facade. These windows have the same detailing as the east ganged window and door, using identical dwarf columns as mullions.

The portico projects approximately eight feet from the east side of the building, interrupting the main roof line. Its masonry body extends vertically above the roof line and is topped by a pyramidal hip roof, belfry and steeple. A single round-arched opening punctuates each projecting facade. The arches on the north and south facades are approximately 8'-0" high and detailed with single rows of sandstone voussoirs. The east facade arch, approximately 10'-0" high, has a double row of sandstone voussoirs. Stout sandstone masonry piers support each of the arches. The west piers are engaged with the main wall of the station and the east piers create the outside corners of the portico. The piers continue the watertable from the main walls. The arches spring from stone impost blocks set approximately 3'-6" above the water table. The impost blocks are lighter sandstone than the body of the portico and are detailed with floral carvings. The arched openings are infilled with brown sandstone masonry laid in a random ashlar pattern, changing the original form and function of the architecture. The portico was infilled in 1978 as part of the conversion as a Senior Citizen Center. Centered on the east facade, between the two inner corbels and at the same level in elevation, is a stone sign measuring approximately 1'-2" x 8'-8" set flush with the face of the building that is incised "DEMAREST."

The interior of Demarest Railroad Depot has an open plan, five bays long, one bay wide, and one and one-half stories high. The main space is accessed through a small front entrance vestibule on the west side. The portico currently serves as an enclosed mechanical room on the east side.

The main room is the primary space within the station. A kitchenette, an accessible restroom and a balcony creating a partial second level are located at the south end of the room. The balcony is accessible via a stair located in the southeast corner.

The walls are clad with a knotty pine tongue and groove wainscot with "v" joint. A plain wood baseboard extends the perimeter of the room except at the north wall and the north end of the east wall where the base is boxed out to conceal piping and wiring. Two other mouldings embellish the wainscot, a rounded trim piece with three center beads serving as a chair rail on the north, east and west walls and an arched mould caps the wainscot on all of the walls. Vertical lengths of beaded composition board one foot wide clad the walls above the wainscot. The half wall serving as the railing at the balcony is also clad in the same composition board. The floors are covered in 1' x 1' resilient tile. The ceiling is covered with 1' x 1' acoustic tile. The window and door wood trim is modern, flat, and four inches wide.

The walls of the main space are 13'-4" high. The walls meet the ceiling which slopes upward, following the roof pitch, to a flat area of ceiling 18'-8" from the floor. The dominant features of this space are the arched heavy timber trusses decoratively adorned with foils that spring from corbels, 8'-0" from the floor. Four main roof trusses span the full width of the building east to west articulating the five bays. The two outer trusses spring from stone corbels and the two inner trusses from wood corbels. The two outer bays coincide with the hips of the roof. Within these bays three half trusses converge at the center of the first full truss springing from stone corbels at each corner and at the center of the outer wall. A large bead articulates the underside of the lower member of each truss. The edges of each truss member are chamfered ending in a lambs tongue chamfer stop shortly before each juncture. Purlins define the transitions between the vertical wall, the sloped ceilings and the flat ceiling. Rafters, centered between each truss at the sloped section of the ceiling, end just beyond each of these purlins. Both the rafters and the purlins have chamfered edges similar to the trusses.

A dormer over the west entrance, within the center bay, provides clerestory light. Although the windows are set in an arched frame, the dormer ceiling is flat and flush with the ceiling of the main room. Two exposed rafters that begin at the upper purlins of the flat and sloped ceilings define the sides. These rafters interrupt the lower purlin between the sloped ceiling and vertical wall. A sloped sill extends from the windows to approximately one foot below the lower transition member.

Fluorescent light fixtures are located in the flat area of the ceiling, two between each of the four center trusses. A central hanging fixture is a chandelier in the design of a ship's wheel.

Aside from the dormer, the west exterior wall has five openings including two original exterior window openings at either end of the elevation and a door located off-center leading to the vestibule, which is flanked by two fixed interior windows. A small sliding door above the entry door and below the dormer allows access to the small space over the vestibule. The southwest corner wall is angled to accommodate the southwest window in the main room. The northwest corner below the cap moulding is enclosed by a small closet housing the gas service. The north wall is without penetrations. The east exterior wall has four Openings: one exterior window located at the north end; an exterior door and window ganged together at the south end; and a double door located slightly off-center leading to the mechanical room (the enclosed portico). Two vents are located above the double doors and the opening for an attic fan is in the sloped ceiling above these. The south elevation is dominated by the modern amenities: the stair to the balcony, kitchenette and an accessible restroom. There are two openings: a double door that leads to the kitchenette, and a single door that leads to the accessible restroom. The balcony projects out over these rooms and is supported by two posts engaged in the exterior walls and encased by a stained pine veneer.

The accessible restroom occupies the southwest corner of the main room. The restroom measures 6'-10" x 6'-8". The northwest corner is angled to accommodate the southwest window opening in the main room. The walls are gypsum board with a 4 x 4 ceramic tile wainscot. The ceiling is gypsum board. The floor is 2 x 2 ceramic tile. The baseboard and the door and window trim are flat wood. The toilet is in the southeast corner below the window. The sink is on the west wall adjacent to a plumbing chase occupying the southwest corner. The flush wood door leading to the main room is in the northeast corner. An exhaust fan vents this space through the masonry wall.

The kitchenette is between the stair to the east and the accessible restroom to the west. The kitchenette measures 7'-8" x 6'-8". A portion of the southeast corner is enclosed to accommodate the stair creating a small under-stair closet for the hot water heater. The ceiling is sloped from the front of this closet up to the ceiling following the stair run above. The walls and ceiling are gypsum board and the floor is 1' x 1' vinyl tile. The baseboard, and door and window trim are flat wood. A kitchenette unit including an electric stove, base cabinet, sink and counter is installed along the west wall. The double doors leading to the main room are centered on the north wall. There are two window openings in the south wall, ganged single-hung windows that are partially obscured by the underside of the stair. A relief valve for the hot water heater is installed through the east window sash.

The balcony is open to the main room above the kitchenette and accessible restroom. It extends north about one-third of the way into the main room beyond the utility spaces of the kitchenette and accessible restroom. A carpeted staircase in the southeast corner of the main room provides access to the balcony. It is a dogleg stair with a landing in the southeast corner. The walls of the kitchenette enclose the stair.

The balcony measures approximately 18'-7" x 13'-4". The floor space is carved out for the stair and for two small toilet rooms along the west wall in the southwest corner. A low wall, clad with knotty pine paneling, at the north perimeter and around the stair opening serves as a railing. The walls are similarly clad as the main room, a knotty pine wainscot and composition board above. The floor is currently carpeted. Each toilet room contains a toilet and sink. There is a sink with a base cabinet located along the west wall between the toilet room and the end of the balcony.

The mechanical room, which was originally an exterior space, is packed with mechanical equipment and wood storage shelves. The piers, capitals, voussoirs and other exterior elements of the portico are visible on the interior. The stone infill within the former archways is parged with concrete. The floor is concrete and slopes gradually from west to east. The ceiling is gypsum board and contains a small access hatch to the attic. The mechanical equipment is vented up through the belfry.

The interior vestibule is created within the projecting wooden bay and an interior wood frame partition set flush with the interior masonry walls. One exterior window is centered in each of the canted walls with a recessed panel below it. The exterior door is centered on the west wall within a recessed wood surround with a low arched opening. The interior wall is clad with wood panels. It has three openings; a central six-panel door with lights in the two top panels, which is flanked on each side by single fixed interior windows. The ceiling is plywood and the flooring is covered with 1' x 1' carpet squares. The small space over the vestibule is currently used for storage. It is clad with wood beaded board.

No archival evidence of the complete original or early interior plan of the station has been located. Given the lack of evidence, the type and location of the original services provided at the station, such as a ticket office, general waiting room, gentlemen's or ladies' waiting rooms, toilet rooms, etc. cannot be identified. There is only one description found in "Summer in the Palisades; A Description of the Northern Railroad of New Jersey and the Palisades", published in 1875 states "...the windows are stained glass and the reception rooms fitted up in panels and ornamental work." There is some indication of the original wall treatment where there is vertical wood beaded board extant within the gas meter closet, the vestibule attic and the water heater closet.

Two historic photographs of the interior show part of the layout of the ticket master's office within the core of the building at the turn of the twentieth century. Whether this was the original location of the office is unknown. The north door and the lower portion of an interior truss appear in the right-hand corner of the 1928 photograph indicating this room was at the north end of the building. Extant scars in the north wood trusses correlate with the location of the ceiling within the ticket master's space. The stove pipe shown on the interior view corresponds to that on the exterior views.

The Depot began to be used as an American Legion Post and for various community functions as well as a passenger station after World War II. As a result of this added use, as least one modification was made to the interior, the addition of the balcony constructed by a local craftsman. Other interior changes included covering the existing flooring with resilient tile, cladding the walls with knotty pine tongue and groove wainscot and composition board above, and covering the ceiling with acoustic tiles. The American Legion Post and community activities continued through 1978, at which time the Borough purchased the depot and converted it into a senior citizen's center. The conversion, based on architectural drawings prepared for the work, included adding the two restrooms at the balcony level and three rooms under the balcony. The door and window on the north elevation were in-filled, the portico was enclosed and converted into a mechanical room, and a new door inserted in the position of the window on the east elevation as a second means of egress. At that time, two stoves were located at the north end of the building; the stove pipes are still extant above the roof. In 1997, the interior underwent additional changes including the removal of the three rooms under the balcony and the construction of the present kitchenette and accessible restroom.