• Torrington Station Death Watch

  • Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
  by Otto Vondrak
 
Anyone have half a million dollars to save an historic structure and significantly improve the view from our Register Citizen offices on Water Street? That’s one estimate of the potential cost of saving the old train station between The Register Citizen property and the Kelley Transit bus yard, between Water and Church streets. The station has looked like it was about to disintegrate for years, but two glimmers of hope have arisen. Tomasz Kalinowski, Monika Kalinowska and Chris Beyus have formed a group called the Abandoned Buildings Fund Club that is targeting the old train station as a possible restoration project. And while the Torrington Development Corp.’s new plan for downtown basically stops at the Trinity Episcopal Church, unlike the old plan that called for the redevelopment of Water Street all the way up to and including The Register Citizen property and Kelly property, the new plan does call for a Greenway that would run along the river all the way from Coe Park to Water Street, past the railroad station, and connecting to Christmas Village.
http://www.registercitizen.com/articles ... 059242.txt

Is Torrington station really about to fall down? Didn't look that bad last time I saw it. What is the NAUG interest in this property?

-otto-
  by H.F.Malone
 
It's pretty bad. The previous (current?) owner, the Kelley family, did nothing to keep the weather out for 25+ years. When NAUG arrived on the scene in 1996, approaches were made to the elder Kelley, for NAUG to help to seal the building against the elements (weather and vandals). NAUG's offer was rudely and harshly rebuffed, and there has been no further interest by NAUG in the station building. NAUG (RMNE) already owns it's OWN station building that needs help-- Thomaston. And our effort has gone into Thomaston station, getting funding to slowly make it better.

The Torrington re-development plans have been constant and numerous over the last 10 years. Some provide for ripping out the tracks north of Water St., some don't. We'll see. Lots of bucks spent on studies, plans, proposals, consultants. And Torrington has not changed in that time. Well, there are more empty storefronts in downtown....
  by Otto Vondrak
 
Glad I got my pictures of the station when I did... I understand the railroad's position- concentrating on Thomaston sounds like a good idea.

-otto-
  by CVRA7
 
What's especially sad about the station situation was the historical tie between the Kelley family and the railroad, going right back to the beginning.
At least one of the early members of the family was involved with the construction of the original Naugatuck Railroad in 1848-49. He or another family member stayed with the railroad, working various position such as agent and baggage master at the Torrington Station. A transfer company was started to carry both freight and passengers to and from the station. This evolved into trucking and transit operations, and the family also was in the coal and oil business.
Stables and garages were built adjacent to the passenger station, which was purchased from the railroad after the regular passenger service ended in 1958.
As Mr. Malone stated the downward trend in the station's condition began then, with the only major project being the demolition of most of the platform canopy as it rotted away. More recently, someone - think it may have been the city - built a chain link fence around the crumbling building to protect trespassers from injury. The current Naugatuck RR ran an occasional special train from the station platform until a few years ago, when the Torrington station stop was moved south of Water St.,which is just south of the station site, for safety reasons.
Apparently the Kelley family retains ownership of the property including the station building. Another interesting building that may have been the stable remains, but other buildings in the complex have either collapsed or have been demolished. The final Mr. Kelley passed away a few years ago, having seen his family empire shrink from a large transportation and fuel operation to just a real-estate holding company. I'm sure his ancestors would not have been pleased.
As for the city's history of development proposals, they make for some interesting and sometimes comical reading.
  by Noel Weaver
 
I think the Kelley people bought the NHRR property and the station for one reason, to have more property for their oil, coal,
trucking and bus business. This they got but they did not have any interest in the old passenger station.
The station was in pretty darn good shape when the railroad stopped using it in December, 1958. Later that month when
the Waterbury B & B gang was up there boarding the place up, I looked around just a little bit and the interior was in very
good shape at the time although some items had been removed. It had a wood floor, tile walls, wood ceiling that had been
highly varnished and could have been used for a restaurant or related business.
There had been bad blood between Kelley and the railroad over the years, they fought over ownership and use of Railroad
Square which is the area between the two and probably other things too.
At one time the Kelley company was a big operation in Torrington and the family most likely had a lot of pull with the local
politicians too. Unfortunately for too long neither the Kelley people nor the City of Torrington had any interest in this grand
old building.
Today, it is probably too far gone to preserve although one never knows. Much of the roof is badly damaged or gone and I
am sure there is water damage all over the place inside. The wooden floors are probably gone too.
There are some good pictures in the archives at Storrs of this interesting old building and I suggest if you have an interest
in the memory of this, go to Storrs and check this material out.
I believe there are two stations that resemble at least more or less the Torrington station still in use: Berlin on the
Springfield Line I know is still in use and staffed by Amtrak and Port Chester on Metro-North is also I think still in use and
staffed by Metro-North. There may be one or two others but I doubt that they are still used for railroad purposes.
Noel Weaver
  by CVRA7
 
Two more similar stations that are still standing are the eastbound station at South Norwalk and Norwich. Like all but Berlin, these station buildings are constructed of yellow brick - Berlin is red.
The S Norwalk station was heavily damaged by fire and rebuilt - "lovingly restored to the way it never was" so it is now heavily modified.
The Norwich station now serves as a community kitchen and offices and also has been heavily modified - the former ticket office enclosure was moved to form a vestibule inside the relocated streetside main entrance, relocated to the middle of that side of the building.
Stamford once had a pair of these stations, eastbound and westbound, the westbound having a ticket office enclosure 5 windows long, stretching the entire distance between the two platform-side doors ( Berlin and Torrington have one ticket window).
These station buildings were constructed from around 1890 until around 1900 - obviously a standard design from the New Haven Railroad.
  by CVRA7
 
In today's (27 Dec 10) Waterbury "Republican American" newspaper there's mention of the city of Torrington seeking a demolition permit to raze the hulk of the Torrington station. The station had been purchased by the Kelley family, owners of adjacent property, not long after the New Haven discontinued passenger service between Waterbury and Winsted in 1958.
Unfortunately the new owners did little to preserve the building. Most of the canopy structure was hacked off of the brick structure by the 1980s, and a leaky roof did little more than slow down the progress of the rain as it fell to the ground.
In the late 1990s an effort by the RMNE to assist with the preservation of the structure was refused by the family. Various unsuccessful area redevelopment plans sometimes mentioned the preservation of the building, but by 2000 most observers agreed it was too late to save it.
The article stated that the building would likely be leveled in the next few weeks.
  by gawlikfj
 
Anything the State can do to preserve it ?
  by Noel Weaver
 
gawlikfj wrote:Anything the State can do to preserve it ?
NOBODY would like to see something positive here more than me. I got my early start with railroading in my birthplace which was Torrington. I remember this place when the local freight ran seven days a week and came in to Torrington with 30 or more cars each trip. Although this building had/has a wooden floor, it also had nice tile walls, varnished ceilings and had reasonably decent maintenance during its use as an active passenger station which ended in December,1958.
The E. J. Kelley Company wanted the property but had little or no interest in the building so they simply let it go to hell.
At this point in time, it would be a total waste of money for anybody to try to save this building, When I was in Torrington last summer, of course I had to have a good look at this depressing sight. The roof has gaping holes in it, I am sure there are many structural problems as well. Could it be preserved? Probably with a huge amount of money which nobody has right now and the state needs their funds for far more important things than this.
I guess I will have to be satisfied with tickets, train orders and photos as well as a lot of very good memories of this structure.
Noel Weaver
  by Ridgefielder
 
I actually didn't know the station was still extant at all. What kind of shape is the building in? Is it in worse condition than the EB station at South Norwalk was in the '80s?
  by Noel Weaver
 
Ridgefielder wrote:I actually didn't know the station was still extant at all. What kind of shape is the building in? Is it in worse condition than the EB station at South Norwalk was in the '80s?
To answer the above question, Much worse than the South Norwak EB station was in the 80's and there is no railroad use for it as it is now or would be in the future.
As I said earlier, E. J. Kelley wanted the property for more parking for their trucks and buses but they did not want the building and thus just let it go downhill.
I have good memories of the Winsted Local (NX-16), trains 442, 153, 158 and 465 as well as the Sunday trains but all this is history today. The loads of coal for the American Brass powerhouse, the cars for everywhere in Torrington. Turner Seymour, Dwan and Company (Beer), Hendy Machine, American Brass, Allied Grocers, the freight house, Torrington Company, Fitzgerald and Company, Wadhams fuel, Hotchkiss Lumber, newsprint for the newspaper and other lumber yards and stuff just in Torrington alone kept that job busy in Torrington for many hours every day. Often there was so much work in Torrington alone that the railroad would have the Short Turn Extra out of Waterbury (Jitterbug) handle Waterville and sometimes even Thomaston so that Torrington would get its cars in a timely manner. American Brass had a big operation in
Torrington and their entire facility which included all manufacturing and all other operations functioned on their own power which was produced in the powerhouse which was plainly visible from the Prospect Street Bridge and was busy 24/7. They had a big crane to move coal and huge piles of coal. The water came from the Stillwater Reservoir which is still in place along the Norfolk Road and the dam is still known today as the "Brass Mill Dam".
It's all gone today, just the tracks remain thankfully.
Noel Weaver
  by Ruzbasan
 
Noel Weaver wrote:
.... Fitzgerald and Company.....American Brass had a big operation in Torrington and their entire facility which included all manufacturing and all other operations functioned on their own power which was produced in the powerhouse which was plainly visible from the Prospect Street Bridge and was busy 24/7. They had a big crane to move coal and huge piles of coal....
Noel Weaver
Noel,
Very interesting post on rail operations in Torrington. I have two questions:

1) The American Brass Company had a huge coal yard in Stratford on the Housatonic River, just across the river from the Devon Power Plant. This coal yard was served by a siding from the four track main line. Did the New Haven move coal cars from this coal yard to Torrington to supply coal to the American Brass plant?

2) Did the Fitzgerald Gasket Company in Torrington have it's own siding or did it use the team tracks at the Torrington Freight House?
  by Noel Weaver
 
Fitzgerald at one time made electric appliances in Torrington and I seem to think they may have had their own siding at least during that particular period. After they no longer made appliances, they continued to make gaskets at the Torrington facility.
Incidentally another article in the Waterbury paper states that the building will be demolished next week. Below is a link.

http://www.rep-am.com/articles/2010/12/ ... 530250.txt

Happy New Year to all on here for 2011.

Noel Weaver
  by Jeff Smith
 
This is a pity. Here's a brief quote from the above linked article provided by Noel. The article itself is somewhat brief:
Company owner Dan Stoughton, hired to demolish the station, said there was little of value to be salvaged after years of water damage that rotted the floor. Some of the wood trim, he said, will be donated to the Torrington Historical Society.

There is little else left but the shell of the building itself: the massive wooden ticket booth, flanked by fluted columns, has fallen through the rotting floor.
  by Noel Weaver
 
The thing that made the mess much worse in the case of Torrington was that this station had/has a wood floor. Most of the old NHRR stations of this design had/have concrete floors and had that been the case at Torrington I don't think the damage would have been quite as bad as it is.
OH WELL, you can still visit the station at Berlin which is very much like the station at Torrington only a little bit bigger and with a concrete floor. I hope Connecticut can come up with the funding to do a nice restoration job on this interesting building.
Noel Weaver