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Preserving the History & Heritage of Lake Winnipesaukee & Vicinity


VICTORIAN railroad station


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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 career.

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.
“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 of chrome.”
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.


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