History of the Station
The Boston and Albany Line
In 1867, when railroad mergers and acquisitions were the norm, the Boston and Worcester and the Western Railroad merged to form The Boston and Albany Railroad.By 1870, the Albany and West Stockbridge and the Hudson and Boston Railroad were also brought under the Boston and Albany Railroad umbrella. The line would eventually service the entire Boston to Albany route. When fully realized, the service would push west, benefiting Massachusetts business interests, as well as east to benefit New York interests. The line still exists today in the form of Amtrak’s Lakeshore Limited and the MBTA’s Framingham/Worcester Commuter Line.
The Early Years
The Boston and Worcester was the first commercial line in New England, with its premier service between Boston and Newton beginning in 1833. The line quickly extended that year, heading west to Wellesley and Ashland, then to Westborough in 1834 and finally to Worcester in 1835.
The Western Railroad was founded to connect the Boston and Worcester Railroad to the Hudson and Berkshire Railroad on the New York State Line. The Albany and West Stockbridge Railroad was incorporated as the New York portion of the Western Railroad in 1834. The Eastern portion of the line to the Connecticut River in Springfield opened in October of 1839, with the western portion traveling through the Berkshire Hills, opening in portions between May and September of 1841.The first train ran along the route in October of 1841.
At a price tag of $6 million, the tracks between Worcester and New York State were completed in three years and the two ends of Massachusetts were finally joined by rail. To make the connection, seven stone arch bridges, the first of their kind in the U.S., were built across the Westfield River with imported stone cut to fit together with little or no mortar.
Boston and Albany acquired the New York and New England Railroad in 1883 and opened “The Circuit” commuter loop in May 1886, a line connecting northwest to the Boston and Albany mainline. This service provided service between Boston, Brookline and Newton Highlands, north to Riverside and a loop back to Downtown Boston.
The Railroad Beautiful
With all these new rail lines came the need for terminals to house them. With that in mind, Boston and Albany Director, Charles Sprague Sargent, set out to create the “Railroad Beautiful.” He commissioned the services of Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson, who is known for work on the Trinity Church in Boston’s Copley Square. Sargent, who had studied botany and horticulture, also brought on landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead, who created the Arnold Arboretum with Sargent, to beautify the route. Richardson’s goal was that each station along the line would serve as a gateway to the town in which it was located and its architecture would offer easy train pathways and shelter for passengers. Following Richardson's death, the firm Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge took over the duty of building stations along the route and worked with Olmstead on landscaping aspects.
As the 1900s rolled around, commuter rail took on service east of Worcester and intercity rail continued west. Amtrak took over intercity trips upon its founding in 1971 and the MBTA acquired the line east of Framingham in 1973. Service west of Framingham was suspended two years later, when its subsidy was discontinued. However, in 1994, rush hour trains started to serve Worcester again, with that service expanding by 1996. Eventually, the former Circuit commuter line was incorporated into the MBTA and became known as the Highland Branch of the Green Line’s D branch.
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