Wakefield, VA train order office

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sat Jan 26 14:34:50 EST 2013

The nomination form (link below) for the Christianburg station is an
interesting read that offers a great deal of information regarding this
style of RR station and addresses the use of the "towers" in the design.


Quoting briefly from this source:

The station is typical of the intermediate grade of depot erected by the
Virginia &
Tennessee Railroad and other companies controlled by Mahone in the
immediate postwar
period. Few survive, having fallen victim to fiscal and modernization
policies in
the railroad industry. The station at Rural Retreat, a stop on the same
line to the south,
is the only other depot built by the Virginia & Tennessee known to survive.
It is very
similar in detail, incorporating nearly identical decorative features and
patterns, but has two squat hipped roof towers, and is considerably
different, and
smaller, in plan and elevation. Two other very similar stations survive, at
and Ivor on the Norfolk & Western line. The nearly identical buildings were
built by
the Norfolk & Petersburg Railroad in 1866, one of the Mahone group. While
and without towers, they and the now vanished Suffolk station which had a
share with the Christiansburg depot similar but not identical stylistic
features. These
include board and batten siding, modillioned cornice and a shallow hipped
roof, as
well as the same configuration of a pair of waiting rooms and an office
grouped in a
main block, with a freight wing extending from the rear along the track.

All of these depots share sources with larger prototypical stations
designed in what
was known as "the railroad style", the Italianate. These include the New
station by Henry Austin of 1848-49, which was equipped with towers, and a
design in Henry Holly's Country Seats of 1865, the first American pattern
book to
include a railroad depot among its plates. Holly stated that the Italian
style was
"appropriate for stations in rural settings where they set a good example
and result
in improving the taste of the community." In addition, the style was easily
to a variety of building types and materials and was inexpensive and
efficient t o
construct and maintain.

Towers were features early associated with depots, where they were often
to house a bell and a clock to signal train arrivals and departures. The
tower at
Christiansburg also suggests domestic villa designs' of the Italian 'style
a s promulgated
by Andrew Jackson Downing and others in the 1840's and 18501s, as does the
use of board and batten siding, which later became a trademark of minor
architecture. In the second half of the nineteenth century railroad
architecture in
both Europe and the United States was characterized by the use of
plans for buildings and building components, and in many cases the identity
of a
company could be recognized by its stations just as in the case of the
color of its
locomotives and cars.
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