Monday, April 16, 2012

The Daniel Nason, and a Cool Carriage

This locomotive is the Daniel Nason , built in 1858 for the Boston & Providence railroad line, and now on display at the St Louis Museum of Transportation. She's a wood-fired locomotive designed by George S. Griggs and built at the Roxbury shop just north of Ruggles street, on land now home to Northeastern University. Daniel Nason himself was the Superintendent of Transportation at the Boston depot of the Boston & Providence line. If you lived in Jamaica Plain in the following years, you would have seen the Daniel Nason chugging through the community, and perhaps it would have taken you to Boston to work or shop.

This carriage was found at the back end of the Boston & Providence Roxbury repair shop in the 1890s and refurbished for display. It was reportedly imported from England, and is now in the hands of the St Louis Museum of Transportation. Is this one of the earliest railroad passenger carriages in existence? It looks like a horse carriage dropped on to rail wheels. Which would make sense, given that a horse carriage was the only model they had, and early locomotives were small, slow-moving vehicles.

I was puzzled at first by the presence of what appears to be footrests on the top front and back of the car. Would a railroad car have footrests for a driver? Then, I found this image:

Here we have a photograph of a very early locomotive and two passenger cars that are very similar to the one shown above. And this explains the footrests - people sitting on the roof!

And finally, this 1849 map fragment shows the Boston & Providence and Boston & Worcester lines crossing in the Back bay. Notice the cars - short, with three windows each. While the drawing was only intended to indicate a railroad line on the map, the artist/cartographer would have modeled his drawing on real trains, and the carriages here bear a close resemblance to the one shown above.

For more on the Roxbury locomotive works and George Griggs, master mechnic of the shop, check out this co-post on my Boston blog here.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Here Comes the Wrecking Ball

I've been asked to publicize a meeting being held to discuss the possible demolition of the New England Home for Little Wanderers building on South Huntington avenue. You can read about it in the Jamaica Plain Gazette. To add some color, I've reposted an earlier entry from this blog.

Here's another South Huntington avenue institution. The New England Home for Little Wanderers was founded in 1865, and moved to the edge of Jamaica Plain as described in this article. For some reason, this region of Roxbury/Jamaica Plain was quite popular with charitable institutions, as shown in earlier entries. I added a contemporary picture below.

Boston Daily Globe July 28, 1914

Little Wanderers' $100,000 Building New Location for Home for Destitute Children. Work on the Erection of a Flameproof Structure Has Begun.

The New England Home for Little Wanderers will sell its present location at 202 West Newton st, and has begun to erect a new structure at a cost of $100,000 between the Jamaicaway and South Huntington av, about four miles from the Public Library and near the spots now occupied by the Boston Nursery for Blind Babies and St Vincent's Hospital. The grounds will comprise about six acres.

The plan of moving has been under consideration for some months, but negotiations for the actual construction have only just been completed.

The architects of the new institution are Brainerd(sp) & Leeds. The building will be fireproof, of three stories and a basement. The ground floor will contain the great dining room for the children, the kitchen and allied features. The boiler plant will be outside the building, its roof forming a terrace.

The first floor will hold a large auditorium with a capacity of 180, suitable for conventions held in the building. There will also be administration rooms for the superintendent, matrons, directors, etc.

The second floor will provide for the occupancy of from 40 to 50 children - rather fewer than the present building, because the plan is that the outside department henceforth shall be of more importance than the actual administrative department.

About 1000 inmates pass through the institution in the course of a year, the most detailed record of them being kept after they pass from beneath the roof of the building to homes elsewhere.

The third floor will be for a playroom and a hospital. The basement will be of reinforced concrete and the material of the remainder of the building will be of antique brick with a considerable amount of stone trimmings, the whole presenting an appearance of the Colonial period. It is hoped the new building may be ready for occupancy by next Spring.

The institution was organized in Boston in May, 1865, under a charter granted by the Legislature of Massachusetts for the purpose "of rescuing children from want and shame, providing them with food and clothing, giving them instruction in mind and heart and placing them, with the consent of their parents, or guardians in Christian homes."

Homeless and destitute children are received from all parts of New England. No discrimination is made because of color, race, sex or religion.

Arthur S Johnson is president of the Home; Samuel D. Parker, treasurer, and Frederic D. Fuller, secretary. The superintendent is Rev F.H. Knight.

The Home is a private charity. It is not supported by State, city or town funds, but by legacies and contributions from churches and individuals.

January, 2008

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ye Olde Forest Hills Station

This 1908 article discusses the then-new Forest Hills elevated station. The drawing above shows an open, fenced-in ground floor. It did get closed in quite a bit more than that on the sides. Notice the water fountain in the middle of the road. And notice the style of writing in the article. It content comes out sounding like a P.R. release, but they style is very different from anything we'd read in a newspaper today. They had not yet received the cut, cut cut message, so they weren't mean with their words.

Boston Daily Globe March 23, 1908

Hope To Have work Done This Year

Building of the Elevated Station in Forest Hills Sq Has Commenced - The Platform Arrangement.

After a prolonged disagreement over the location of the Forest Hills terminal of the elevated railroad, ground has at last been broken in Forest Hills sq. and the work of putting in the foundations for the new station begun.

The abrupt termination of the elevated structure at the entrance of the square, with its big derricks overhanging the roadway, has long been an annoyance to the residents of the district, and the completion of the work is looked forward to by all.

The terminal will be located on the west side of the square, adjoining the NY, NH & H tracks, and will be 360 feet long by 70 feet wide - a much larger station than the present terminal at Dudley st. Two tracks will pass through the station, one inbound and the other outbound.

There being no loop as at Dudley st, a blind end will be used; that is, the tracks will extend beyond the station far enough for a train that has unloaded its passengers from Boston to run out and switch over to the inbound track, when it will return to the station and load passengers for Boston from an opposite platform.

Egress from the unloading platform of the station to the surface car loading platform will be by means of two stairways. Passengers arriving on surface cars and bound for Boston will alight on an opposite platform and will gain access
to the elevated loading platform by means of two moving stairways and two ordinary stairways. Both surface car platforms will be enclosed by fences as is the case now at Dudley st.

The elevated platforms will be large enough to accommodate any crowds that will have occasion to use them for some years to come, the loading platform being 30 feet wide and the unloading platform will have a width of 20 feet, while their great length of 360 feet will amply accommodate an eight-car train, as will all of the new elevated stations and those on the Washington-st subway.

The material used in the construction of the new station and that portion of the elevated structure which crosses the arborway will be reinforced concrete, and the architecture of the whole will be sufficiently ornate to be in keeping with the surroundings, the portion of the elevated structure previously mentioned being somewhat similar in design to the present railroad bridge over the arborway.

The northern end of the station, which might be called the front entrance, will be somewhat higher than the rest of the building and will be 64 feet high. In that portion of the building will be located a waiting room, toilet rooms and an office.

With the completion of this station the Dudley-st station will cease to be a terminal and become a way station, and to this end important changes are to be made there.

No definite arrangements have yet been made by the elevated officials for handling the traffic under the new conditions, but in all probability some of the surface car line which now feed Dudley-st station will be diverted to one of the new elevated stations, possibly that at Egleston Square, thus relieving the Dudley-st station of a great deal of congestion. The engineers hope, with good fortune, to be able to complete the work by the end of this year, when, with the completion of the new subway, Boston will have taken a long stride in the direction of real rapid transit.