Letter: Writer clarifies history of train station

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To the editor,

In the interest of historical accuracy, some clarifications are needed for the Feb. 27, 2015 front page train station story, though once in print these claims have a way of perpetuating themselves.
Articles in the Naugatuck Daily News, the hometown paper of the day, verify that “the new passenger station on North Water street has been completed and will be opened to the public on next Sunday,” which it did on Sept. 6, 1908. It is hard to believe that even a finishing touch could have taken until 1910, as has been stated for years.

The dating was further corroborated by the discovery of the Henry Bacon architectural plans at the University of Connecticut’s Archives & Special Collections Department. They commence in March 1907 and were revised several times later in that year, almost as if Bacon was being pressed for the fall 1908 opening. This information was reported to the Naugatuck Historical Society.

It was not Howard Whittemore, but John Howard Whittemore, who was involved. While he was reportedly responsible for choosing Bacon and his financial involvement is likely, nothing I have yet seen actually says Whittemore paid for Bacon’s salary or for the building.

Today’s rail service is provided by Metro-North, an arm of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The newspaper bought the railroad station in 1964, but the north room was used by a railroad agent and passengers until April 30, 1973; the station passed to the borough in the 1990s and became the home of Naugatuck Historical Society in 2001.

“So many people love this building,” indeed. We all hope that the borough vigorously monitors its preservation and safety concerns in operating a restaurant in such a historic building, the only Bacon-designed railroad station I am aware of in the country. Personally I was hoping for law offices or an architectural firm as the new owner.

A set of the design plans to grace the walls inside would be a fitting tribute and I would encourage Naugatuck Historical Society to take many, many photos of the interior and basement before it vacates the 1908 station.

Bob Belletzkie

Prospect