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Vermont Central Railroad Engine House

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c. 1850, Ammi B. Young. Wall St. at the railroad tracks, Northfiel village
  • (Photograph by Curtis B. Johnson, C. B. Johnson Photography)

This long, gabled brick structure is the most unaltered remnant of the original headquarters of the Vermont Central Railroad. Together with the adjacent, remodeled depot, it is the only survivor of Vermont's first generation of railroad buildings, when few prototypes existed for buildings to accommodate the care and storage of steam locomotives. The name “Engine House” describes this structure well, for it appears as an out-sized, elongated house, which is entered via tracks through two portals at its main gable end. Later versions would have portals at both ends, so that locomotives could enter and exit from either direction.

Commissioned by railroad president Charles Paine, the engine house retains its original Italianate styling, then just coming into vogue. Here Italianate features include round-arched portals, corbeled eaves cornices, and segmental-arched windows and doorways with corbeled drip moldings, which became the standard for brick depots and other rail buildings in Vermont through the 1870s. Inside, the structure has unrestricted open space made possible by wooden roof trusses. Across the tracks there is a stone retaining wall built when the ground was first graded and flattened to make way for the rail yard. Although it suffers from poor maintenance and plywood replacing its doors, the building remains a rare example of design from the primordial era of railway construction.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Vermont Central Railroad Engine House", [Northfield, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 320-320.

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