Built in 1907 the Methuen Railroad Depot was another one of the many gifts of Edward F Searles to the city of Methuen. Replacing the original wooden structure with a magnificent building designed by Henry Vaughan.
Year Constructed: C 1907
Architect(s): Fletcher, Henry B.; Hayden, H. W.; Vaughan, Henry
Architectural Style(s): English Revival
MET.A: Spicket Falls Historic District
MET.E: Searles, Tenney Nevins Historic District
Designation(s): Local Historic District (2/11/1991); Nat’l Register District (6/20/1984); Nat’l Register MRA (6/20/1984)
Methuen had two stops along the Manchester & Lawrence Branch of the Boston and Main Railroad. The Methuen Depot at the corner of Union and Railroad Sts.
And Messer’s Corner..Where the train tracks cross Hampshire Rd on the Salem, NH Border.
The railroad hasn’t been used for passengers since the 60s, and for freight since the mid 90s; it was finally abandoned in 2002.
Significance: The Railroad Depot occupies a small lot at the northeast corner of Railroad and Union Streets, with the railroad tracks adjacent to the west. A large paved parking area (lot 33) extends eastward to River Street. All elevations of the building are visible. As an excellent example of small railroad station design by noted architect Henry Vaughan, and as one of Edward F. Searles many gifts to the town, it makes an important contribution to the historic/architectural character of the district.
Defining Features: Important elements include the red brick laid up in Flemish bond with burnt headers, the cross gables, and the large covered waiting platforms that extend in both directions along the railroad tracks. A covered verandah encircles the building, but unfortunately,a large porte-cochere on the east side have been lost.
General Description: The Railroad Depot is a typical small-scale station consisting of a brick office/waiting room/baggage room with a long, covered, wood frame waiting platform stretching along the railroad tracks. Parapeted gables on all four sides of the slate roof contain triple windows. Most windows at the first story have been brick in or down. The east elevation displays two entries and five altered windows openings. The north and south side elevations contain two large altered window openings. The trackside west elevation contains a center entry with two windows to the south and three to the north. A rounded bay at the southern end retains the only original sash which is 1/1 with six-pane transoms.
Historical Narrative: There began to be considerable discussion about the need for a new railroad station in the 1890s. An 1896 letter to the Methuen Transcript called the freight house a disgrace and suggested that the people of Methuen were entitled to better accommodations. A few years later, in 1898, Methuen businessman George W. Tenney made a plea to the Boston & Maine Railroad for a new station. Edward F. Searles, who was a major stockholder in the B&M finally donated land and had the station built at his expense. The Methuen Transcript reported that H.B. Fletcher was the architect working with chief engineer H.W. Hayden. Biographer Morgan says that the station was designed by Searles’ architect, Henry Vaughan who designed all of Searles’ other major buildings in Methuen. The station opened on July 13,1908, and was used as a passenger depot until the l960s. It was renovated in the 1980s and is now used for offices.
The building is presently the private offices of Laborer’s Union Local #175, however the porticoes are mostly inside the Rail Trail property and are in dire need of a new roof. If you support restoring these porticoes instead of letting them fall down, please contact the Methuen Mayor’s office and let them know.