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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: Michael F. Dwyer, 10/1974
Gaithersburg B & O Railroad Station and Freight Shed
Inventory No.: M: 21-151, M: 21-157
Date Listed: 10/5/1978
Location: 5 S. Summit Avenue, 9 S. Summit Avenue, Gaithersburg, Montgomery County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1884, 1905
Architect/Builder: Architect: E. Francis Baldwin?
Description: The Gaithersburg B & O Railroad Station is a one-story common-bond brick structure with a gable roof. Facing south towards the tracks, the six bay long by one room deep building consists of the five-bay original station, a one-bay addition used for storage at the east end, and several small appendages on the rear. The station was built in 1884 and extended in the same style to the east in 1905. In the center bay of the south facade of the original, five-bay portion is a projecting tower with a steep gable roof, flanked on either side by a door topped with a 12-light transom. While the doorway on the west holds its original five-panel door, the door on the east is a replacement. In the outermost bay on each end is a tall "Queen Anne"-style window. The eight-panel door in the south facade of the storage shed matches the five-panel door, but is wider. It has an 18-light transom, with two rows of nine lights. A molded brick string course appears at the window sills and architrave levels. The tower has a tall semicircular headed window, above which is a corbeled table with an inset tablet. The eaves are bracketed and the exposed rafter ends carved; the gable has herring-bone battens. The platform canopy is supported by turned brackets. The east and west gable ends of the building hold large, segmental arches with three windows set back from the wall surface. These windows all have 15-light fixed sash above two lights placed vertically in the lower sash. The west gable, which is corbeled out from the wall surface, has fishscale shingles. On the interior, the original ladies waiting room, on the west end, retains its vertical board wainscoting and wood floor. Scrolled brackets support the ledge of the ticket windows. Windows and doors are trimmed with reeded surrounds and bulls-eye corner blocks. In the center of the room is a pot-bellied stove stamped "No. 2 Grafton B & O RR Co". On the east wall of this room is a wooden bench on a wrought iron frame. A tin insert on the bench is stamped "B & O RR". The men's waiting room to the east has many of the same features, with two ticket windows on the west wall and a doorway between to the stationmaster's office. The office is a long narrow room with four ticket windows and a wooden desk built into the south wall. About 90 feet to the east of the station is the freight shed or loading dock, a brick structure about 45' x 20'. Its north and south facades are divided into six panels with a door in the second and fifth bays on both sides. Over each door is a transom topped by a segmental arch. The gable roof of the shed has the same shallow pitch of the main roof of the station. The eaves are supported with small brackets on the north side, while on the south side much larger brackets support both the ease and an overhang that shelters the loading platform. In the peak of the gable at either end are boards placed in herringbone design. The wooden platform surrounds the building on the north, south, and west sides. Significance: The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad station and freight shed at Gaithersburg survive as reminders of the importance of the railroad in the emergence and development of the town. They are also one of a series of architecturally fine buildings built by the B & O in the 19th century, a number of which are also listed on the National Register, including two other stations on the Metropolitan Branch, Rockville and Point of Rocks. The Gaithersburg station was built in 1884, most likely by E. Francis Baldwin. The Metropolitan Branch of the B & O, completed in 1873, revolutionized transportation in and out of Washington and made a tremendous contribution to the agricultural community by providing inexpensive shipment of produce and supplies. The primary purpose behind its construction, which ran 42.75 miles and cost three million dollars, was to save travel time between Washington and the west. Initially little thought was given to the impact the coming of the railroad might have on the rural areas of Montgomery County it would traverse, but the opening of the Metropolitan Branch impacted the economy of the entire county. Market gardening, fruit growing, and wind production became successful businesses while the level of importing and exporting increased significantly. The railroad provided markets and also afforded farmers access to lime from Frederick, which transformed Montgomery County into one of the most productive agricultural areas in Maryland. Suburban subdivisions began to appear along the line in the 1880s.

 

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