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OF LACONIA, NH
Along with the Gale Memorial Library (completed
in 1903), the Baptist Church (completed in 1848 and moved
to its present location following construction of the Library),
and the Congregational Church (completed in 1906), the Laconia
Railroad Station dominates the northern end of Laconia's
downtown commercial area.
The inspiration for replacing Laconia's original one-room
station came from Charles A. Busiel, a successful Laconia
businessman who later became Governor of New Hampshire.
Mr. Gilbert's design is in the Romanesque Revival Style
that was popularized in the United States by American architect
Henry Hobson Richardson. The latter had many followers.
Because of that influence, the style is often referred to
as Richardson Romanesque. The Laconia Railroad Station was
completed approximately ten years after the height of Richardson's
Clearly, the main architectural feature of the station is
its central waiting room. It is over 50 feet high. Visitors
are awestruck by the groined ceiling with its curved beams
and hand carved elements and the massive red sandstone fireplace.
The room is ringed with clerestory stained glass windows
that provide natural light throughout the day, even when
it is cloudy.
On both sides of the massive waiting room are smaller sections
that housed passenger ticket and baggage offices, public
rest rooms, and taxi services. To the east and to the west
of the center interior sections were the covered platforms.
The exterior of the waiting and passenger service rooms
was constructed of light gray rusticated granite. This section
of the structure is capped by a squat, massive tower that
serves as the main focal point for the structure. The granite
is highlighted by red sandstone trim, and all of the stonework
is set in a red mortar.
All of the station's parts are visually tied together by
a broad linear hip roof that covers the waiting platforms,
the porte-cochere, and waiting room and offices. The roof
is surfaced in dark grey slate. The sheer extent of the
roof gives the station a size and scale beyond that required
by the simple functions that the building served. The roofline
is embellished with terra cotta detailing.
The massive slate roof over the waiting platforms is supported
by tree-like wood columns. These columns start as a single
pole at their base and then branch into a limb-like bracing
system where they support the roof. The underside of the
platform is beaded tongue and grove paneling finished with
a spar varnish.
The mass of the roof and granite work
is softened by carved detailing in the granite and sandstone
at the column capitals and window openings.
That’s how The Laconia Democrat described the
now historic Victorian Laconia Railroad Station on the occasion
of its completion and dedication in August of 1892.
“The main features of the building
are the port-cochere at the entrance and the large general
waiting room or rotunda, open to the roof, with clerestory
windows on all sides. The floor of this room is of tile,
and the wall to a height of ten feet are finished in quartered
oak, and above that plastered and tinted in two shades