Framingham Railroad Station

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FRAMINGHAM
Framinghamstation2.jpg
Modern station platforms and pedestrian bridge, opened in 2001
Station statistics
Address 417 Waverly Street
Framingham, MA 01702
Line(s) Amtrak: MBTA:
Connections Local bus MWRTA: Routes 5 and 6
Platforms 2 side platforms
Tracks 2
Parking 166 spaces ($4.00)
4 accessible spaces
Bicycle facilities 10 spaces(on racks)
Other information
Opened 1834
Rebuilt 1848, 1885 (H.H. Richardson depot)
2001 (modern platforms)
Accessible Handicapped/disabled access
Station code FRA (Amtrak)
Owned by MBTA
Fare zone 5 (MBTA)
Traffic
Passengers (2013) 2,674[1] Increase 15% (Amtrak annual)
Passengers (2009) 1,150[2] (MBTA weekday average)
Services
Preceding station   BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak   Following station
toward Chicago
Lake Shore Limited
MBTA.svg MBTA
toward Worcester
Framingham/Worcester Line
  Former services  
New York Central Railroad
toward Albany
Boston and Albany Railroad
Main Line
toward Boston
toward Worcester
Worcester Line
toward Boston
toward Milford
Milford Branch Terminus
Framingham Railroad Station
FraminghamRailroadStation.jpg
Framingham Railroad Station in 1959
Framingham Railroad Station is located in Massachusetts
Framingham Railroad Station
Coordinates 42°16′35″N 71°25′6″W / 42.27639°N 71.41833°W / 42.27639; -71.41833Coordinates: 42°16′35″N 71°25′6″W / 42.27639°N 71.41833°W / 42.27639; -71.41833
Built 1885
Architect H. H. Richardson
Architectural style Richardson Romanesque
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 75000258[3]
Added to NRHP January 17, 1975

Framingham Railroad Station is a historic Boston and Albany Railroad station located in downtown Framingham, Massachusetts. Designed by noted American architect H. H. Richardson, it was one of the last of the railroad stations he designed in the northeastern United States to be built. The station, built in 1884-85, served as a major stop on the B&A Main Line as well as a hub for branch lines to Milford, Mansfield, Fitchburg, and Lowell. After years of deterioration, the station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, and restored a decade later.[3]

In 2001, MBTA Framingham/Worcester Line and Amtrak operations were shifted to a new set of platforms nearby, which have high-level sections for handicapped-accessible boarding and a footbridge for crossing the tracks. This new Framingham station is among the busiest on the MBTA system, with 41 daily MBTA and 2 Amtrak trains on weekdays. The H.H. Richardson-designed station building remains largely intact and is currently used as a restaurant.

History[edit]

1848-built station photographed in 1861
1848-built station, moved from its original location and converted to a freight house, in 1959

Boston and Worcester Railroad[edit]

The Boston and Worcester Railroad, which had opened from Boston to Newton in April 1834, opened to South Framingham in August 1834.[4] The village's first major station, a 2-story wooden Dutch Colonial structure, was constructed in 1848.[5] After being replaced, it was moved slightly west and converted to a freight house - a function it served until it was demolished in the 1960s.[5]

Over the next several decades, South Framingham became an important regional rail hub. The Boston and Worcester built its 12-mile Milford Branch from South Framingham to Milford via Holliston in 1848.[4] The next year, the B&W built a short branch to Framingham Center, which the B&W mainline had bypassed. This line, later called the Agricultural Branch Railroad, was extended to Pratts Junction in Sterling in 1855. The Agricultural Branch and the Framingham & Lowell (which branched off it at Framingham Center) were the northernmost section of the Old Colony Railroad, which took over the lines in 1879.[4] The Old Colony's access to South Framingham was the Mansfield & Framingham, which opened in 1870 and was also acquired in 1879.[4] By the time of the Old Colony takeover, South Framingham featured the 1848-built station, a freight house, a car house, and three separate engine houses serving the various branch lines. Through service on the mainline operated as far as Albany; the B&W had joined with the Western Railroad in 1867 to become the Boston and Albany Railroad.[4] Framingham began to be used occasionally as a short turn terminus for Boston-bound commuter trains in the early 1860s and continuously as such after 1864.[6] To this day, some Framingham/Worcester Line trains are short-turned at Framingham.[7]

H.H. Richardson depot[edit]

H.H. Richardson depot under construction in 1885
Interior of the station in 1959

Beginning in 1881, the Boston & Albany began a massive improvement program that included the building of over 30 new stations along its main line as well as the Highland Branch, which it bought in 1883. Famed architect H. H. Richardson was hired to design nine of these stations, including South Framingham which was commissioned in October 1883.[8] The $62,718 station, built in 1884-85 by the Norcross Brothers company, was the largest and costliest of the nine.[5] The station is a prime example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, built of rough-hewn granite with contrasting details. The dominant roofline, dormers, arched bow window, and wooden interior are typical of the style. Like many of Richardson's designs, the station was well-praised; Henry-Russell Hitchcock called it a "better and somewhat more personal work" in The Architecture of H.H. Richardson and His Time.[8] A small square baggage room was built in the same style just east of the station, near the Concord Street (Route 126) grade crossing.[5]

The station's importance remained through the first half of the 20th century. After the Boston & Albany was acquired by the New York Central Railroad in 1900, third and fourth tracks were extended in 1907 to South Framingham from Lake Crossing station in Wellesley.[4] In 1911, the NYC considered laying third rail on the main line as far as South Framingham, as well as on the Highland Branch, to allow more frequent electric service on the lines. This would have been the only electrified commuter service directly into Boston, as neither the later-electrified Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad nor experimental electric service on the South Shore Railroad went directly to downtown. However, the plan was abandoned because the infrastructure cost would have exceeded the annual savings on fuel.[6] (In 1959, the Highland Branch received catenary wire and was turned into the Green Line "D" Branch).

Due in no small part to the presence of the station, South Framingham eclipsed Framingham Center in size; by the 1940s, the village and the station were simply known as Framingham.[9] Traffic on the B&A and its various branch lines, though, had been decreasing since World War I. In 1919, Agricultural Branch trains were cut to Framingham requiring a transfer to continue Boston or Mansfield. The line was cut back to Marlborough in 1931, and passenger service ended in 1937.[6] Passenger service on the Mansfield & Framingham ended in 1933.[4] The Milford Branch lasted the longest of the Boston & Albany branch lines; it was cut to one daily trip in 1953 and terminated in April 1959.[6]

MBTA era[edit]

An MBTA train at Framingham in 1977
The Lake Shore Limited at Framingham in 1977

In January 1960 the New York Central planned to end all service on the line, due to the opening of the Green Line "D" Branch to Riverside in July 1959. However, in April the railroad was ordered to continue limited service, leaving Framingham with 8 daily round trips.[6] When the extension of the Massachusetts Turnpike to downtown Boston began in 1961, the third and fourth tracks were removed. The NYC merged into Penn Central in 1968; by 1969, Framingham saw just 4 daily round trips.[6]

The MBTA began subsidizing service as far as Framingham in January 1973; the last Worcester round trip ended on October 27, 1975, leaving Framingham as the terminus of the line.[10] The modern Amtrak Lake Shore Limited was established 4 days later and has provided intercity service stopping at Framingham since.[6] From 1996 to until their 2004 discontinuation, Amtrak Inland Route trains also stopped at Framingham.[11][12]

By the 1970s, the station had fallen into disrepair; part of the roof actually collapsed in 1978.[5] On January 17, 1975, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Framingham Railroad Station.[3] The building was restored in 1985, and has been occupied by various restaurants since.[5] The original interior is no longer extant, but the exterior is mostly complete. The small baggage office east of the station building has been converted into a bank ATM.[5]

When the Needham Line was closed in October 1979 for Southwest Corridor construction, service to Framingham was increased to compensate.[10] By April 1984, the MBTA operated 12.5 daily round trips from Framingham.[6] Service was restored to Worcester on September 26, 1994 as mitigation for delays in reopening the Old Colony Lines - the first time in 19 years that MBTA service continued past Framingham.

New station[edit]

2001-built station platforms and track to prevent pedestrians from crossing the tracks
The restored 1885 depot is now a local restaurant

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 mandated that all new construction on transit stations including making the stations handicapped accessible. Because the 1885 depot is very close to the tracks, such upgrades at the old station location would have been difficult. New platforms, with mini-high platforms on their west ends for level boarding, were built just west of the former station. A footbridge with two elevators was built to allow passengers to reach the outbound platform without crossing the tracks, which carry slow-moving CSX freight service as well as MBTA and Amtrak trains.[13] The new station was built in 2000 and opened in early 2001.[14][15]

Framingham currently sees 20.5 weekday MBTA round trips to Boston, with 8 to 9 round trips on weekends.[7] On weekdays, Framingham is the only station other than South Station and Back Bay at which all trains stop. Most trains run to/from Worcester, but some terminate at Framingham instead.[7] Average weekday inbound ridership is 1,150 passengers, making Framingham the busiest station on the line.[2] Framingham also has Amtrak intercity service via the daily Lake Shore Limited, which runs to Chicago's Union Station via Albany–Rensselaer.

Grade crossings[edit]

Concord Street grade crossing near the station

The crossings at Beaver Street and Concord Street (Route 126) near the station are the first grade crossings on the line heading westbound; there are only three others on the largely grade-separated line east of Worcester. The Concord Street crossing was one of the last in the state with a crossing guard; he was replaced by an automated system in 1986.[16] The crossing is problematic because passing freight trains often result in delays both on Route 126, as well as Route 135 which crosses it just south of the tracks. The frequent blockage of the crossing by passing trains reduces capacity in the intersection by 21% during the morning rush and 16% in the afternoon, resulting in delays and traffic jams in the downtown area. Increased service levels planned by the MBTA would result in morning capacity reduction of 34% and afternoon reduction of 28%.[17]

The first discussion of improving the intersection and grade crossing was a study in 1898, since which there have been about three dozen more.[17] The most recent, a 2009 study of the downtown area, examined the possibility of depressing Route 126 under the grade crossing and intersection as well as several other alternatives including bypasses. The Route 126 depression was deemed to create barriers to walkability downtown, and the recommended alternative was to depress Route 135 under the intersection to prevent it from being affected by trains passing through the grade crossing.[17]

Funds have not yet become available for final design and construction.

Other Framingham stations[edit]

Map of current and former railroad stations in and around Framingham
Framingham Centre station around 1900
Nobscot station around 1910
Saxonville station with a train in 1880

Besides the main depot at the South Framingham junction, Framingham has been served by a number of stations inside or just outside its borders. The Agricultural Branch included three of these stations. One, variously known as Montwait, Mt. Wayte, and Lakeview, was located just north of Mt. Wayte Avenue at the north end of Farm Pond.[4][18] The station served the Montwait neighborhood as well as the Montwait Camp Ground, a worship camp used by Methodist, Chautaqua, and later Pentecostal groups from the 1870s to the 1910s.[19][20] The Framingham Centre station - at times known simply as Framingham - located at Maynard Street adjacent to Route 9. Opened in 1849, it also served the Framingham & Lowell after that line opened in 1871. A freight house and coal shed were located nearby to the north.[21] Fayville station was located just over the Southborough border in the Fayville village and also served the western reaches of Framingham. The station was placed at Central Street between Route 9 and Route 30 at or after the 1855 opening of the line.[22] The three stations closed with the end of passenger service on the branch in 1937; none of the buildings remain.[6]

The Framingham & Lowell shared the South Framingham and Framingham Centre stations after its 1871 opening. An additional station, variously known as North Framingham and Nobscot, was located between Water Street and Edgell road, near the modern Nobscot Shopping Center.[23] The station closed with the end of passenger service in the 1930s and is no longer extant.

The Saxonville Branch - the only line in Framingham not connected to South Framingham - opened from Natick to Saxonville in July 1846.[4] Two stations on the branch line were in Framingham. Cochituate station was at Commonwealth Road (Route 30) on Framingham's eastern border with Natick.[24] The terminus station at Saxonville was a "typical B&A granite station" located off Concord Street north of School Street (Route 126).[25][26] The lightly used line never saw more than three daily round trips; in 1936, passenger service was discontinued. A "bus" - the Saxonville station agent's car - ran to Natick station until 1943.[25] Neither station is still extant.

No stations other than the South Framingham hub were located on the Boston & Albany mainline within Framingham. The stations in Ashland (still-extant downtown station closed in 1960; nearby park-and-ride station opened in 2002) and West Natick (opened 1982) serve some peripheral sections of Framingham.[10]

Bus connections[edit]

The central hub for the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) is located at 2nd Street in Framingham, about a mile east of Framingham station. All of the agency's eleven routes except the Natick commuter shuttle connect at the hub. Routes 1 through 7 all travel through downtown Framingham, about two-tenths of a mile from the station. Two routes have direct service to Framingham station:

  • 5 Hopkinton Line
  • 6 Milford Line

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2013, Commonwealth of Massachusetts" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Ridership and Service Statistics". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Karr, Ronald Dale (1995). The Rail Lines of Southern New England. Branch Line Press. pp. 218, 279–286, 307–309. ISBN 0942147022. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Roy, John H. Jr. (2007). A Field Guide to Southern New England Railroad Depots and Freight Houses. Branch Line Press. pp. 157–58. ISBN 9780942147087. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Humphrey, Thomas J. and Clark, Norton D. (1985). Boston's Commuter Rail: The First 150 Years. Boston Street Railway Association. pp. 22–25. ISBN 9780685412947. 
  7. ^ a b c "Framingham/Worcester Line schedule". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Cummins, Abbott L. (January 1960). "Photographs: Written Historical and Descriptive Data". Historic American Buildings Survey. United States Nation Park Service. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  9. ^ United States Geological Survey (1943). "Framingham Quadrant". USGS 7.5 Minute Sheets and Quadrangles. WardMaps LLC. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c Belcher, Jonathan (12 November 2012). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  11. ^ National Rail Passenger Corporation (dba Amtrak) (10 November 1996). "Amtrak Northeast Timetable". Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 4. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  12. ^ National Rail Passenger Corporation (dba Amtrak) (1 November 2004). "Amtrak System Timetable". Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 30. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  13. ^ TranSystems and Planners Collaborative (24 August 2007). "Evaluation of MBTA Paratransit and Accessible Fixed Route Transit Services: Final Report". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Agency. p. 40. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  14. ^ Leonhardt, Dick (15 October 2000). "MBTA 1055 (photo)". RR Picture Archives. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  15. ^ Leonhardt, Dick (6 May 2001). "Station (photo)". RR Picture Archives. Retrieved 6 February 2001. 
  16. ^ "Technologically Displaced". Middlesex News. 27 February 1986. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  17. ^ a b c Beta Group Inc. et al (31 August 2009). "Final Report: Downtown Study Framingham, MA". Town of Framingham. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  18. ^ "Framingham 1895 Plate 04: South Framingham, Lake St". Barnes & Jenks. 1895. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  19. ^ "US - Massachusetts Listings". Healing and Revival Press. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  20. ^ "Other Chautaqua Assemblies". The Chautauquan 31: 427. April–September 1900. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  21. ^ Geo. H. Walker & Co. (1889). Framingham Center (Map). 1 : 3000. Atlas of Middlesex County, Massachusetts. WardMaps LLC. http://www.wardmaps.com/viewasset.php?aid=4013. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  22. ^ L.J. Richards (1898). Northborough & Shrewsbury & Southborough & Westborough (Fayville inset) (Map). 1 : 6600. New Topog. Atlas of the County of Worcester. WardMaps LLC. http://www.wardmaps.com/viewasset.php?aid=12374. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  23. ^ Framingham Quadrant (Map). 1:31680. USGS 7.5 Minute Sheets and Quadrangles. WardMaps LLC. 1922. http://www.wardmaps.com/viewasset.php?aid=13565. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  24. ^ F.W. Beers & Co. (1875). Natick (Map). 1:28,800. County Atlas of Middlesex, Massachusetts. WardMaps LLC. http://www.wardmaps.com/viewasset.php?aid=532. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  25. ^ a b Humphrey, Thomas J. and Clark, Norton D. (1986). Boston's Commuter Rail: Second Section. Boston Street Railway Association. pp. 39, 61. ISBN 9780938315025. 
  26. ^ Geo. H. Walker & Co. (1889). Saxonville (Map). Atlas of Middlesex County, Massachusetts. http://www.wardmaps.com/viewasset.php?aid=4012. Retrieved 2 March 2013.

External links[edit]

Modern station[edit]

1885 station[edit]