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December 27, 2022

Architecture for the Boston & Albany Railroad: 1881-1894

Ochsner, J. K. (1988). Architecture for the Boston & Albany Railroad: 1881-1894. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 47(2), 109-131 .

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Between 1881 and 1894 the Boston & Albany Railroad undertook a major program of capital investment and improvements to the physical facilities of the line, including the construction of over 30 new passenger stations. H. H. Richardson's close friends, James A. Rumrill and Charles S. Sargent, as the two members of the B&A Board most interested in construction, were given responsibility for this program. They directed the commissions to Richardson and after his death to his successors, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge. Richardson's nine B&A station designs were generally variations on a simple theme-small rectangular stone blocks with overhanging roofs providing sheltered waiting space at trackside. The continuation of this approach by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge in 23 additional station designs resulted in a remarkable consistency of character and quality throughout the B&A system. This consistency was also fostered by the continuing participation of Norcross Brothers of Worcester (Richardson's "Master Builder") as contractor, and by the participation of F. L. Olmsted, whose design of landscaped settings for many of the stations contributed to the establishment of the B&A program of "railroad gardening." While the stations were small commissions, the totality of the B&A program represents an impressive collaboration of designer, contractor, and client which has seldom been equalled.