Abandoned Vermont: Fair Haven Depot

Looking northeast on the tracks at the Fair Haven Depot.

A train depot is a type of structure that is easily recognizable by many people, partially because it is adjacent to railroad tracks and partially because of its form and massing. Tell tale features to look for include 1) a bay window or projection from the building that would offer a better line of sight, 2) a long, narrow building, usually with a gableĀ  or hipped roof, 3) large freight doors on one end and pedestrian sized doors on another, and 4) infrastructure for signals on and near the building.

This depot in Fair Haven,VT was constructed c. 1890 in order to service the nearby slate quarries in addition to passenger traffic. It is a historically significant structure. The railroad owns the building and was an Amtrak stop (not station) until 2010, when Amtrak left Fair Haven in favor of Castleton, VT (located five miles east). Currently it sits abandoned and neglected. Well, I consider it abandoned because of the neglect. Officially, this building has an owner. The painted plywood windows and doors serve as a detraction from its neglect, but the building is suffering from masonry deterioration.

Quite the sunny, warm January day in Fair Haven.

Here you can see the bay window projection and freight doors at the end of the building. Also note the slate shingle detail in the gable above the bay projection and the beadboard beneath, used as siding.

The gable above the bay and the former location of the signal arms.

Extensive masonry deterioration on the south wall.

One of the largest piles of railroad ties that I have ever seen.

The gateway to the depot is a 1938 concrete bridge.

Aside from neglect, the good news is that the building appears secure (save for lots of critters). The bad news is that there are no plans by the railroad or by the town to do anything with the depot. (I could be mistaken, however, and I hope I am.) Train depots are iconic buildings that all people can connect to whether due to memories or movies or the lure of trains. If you have a train depot in your area, contact your local officials and potentially interested organizations – get your town geared up for a rehabilitation project! Need some success stories? Check out the Swanton Railroad Museum, the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Cafe or the South Londonderry Depot. Find others here.

Transportation related structures benefit immensely from the Transportation Enhancements Grants program, which is severely at risk right now. Please tell your legislators how important TEs are to your community. Remember this post? The Importance of Transportation Enhancement Grants to Historic Preservation.


14 thoughts on “Abandoned Vermont: Fair Haven Depot

    • Kaitlin says:

      Close! I used the 1938 date panel for the “How to Photograph a Bridge” post, but other than that, I have not featured it yet. I will get more up close and personal with it soon. I love a good bridge, too.

  1. Matt Murphy says:

    It seems that this would be a great renovation project for a small business! It seems that there is strengthening support for re-using old train depots, especially in cities with potential to have train service. What’s that like in Vermont? Are people pretty supportive of restoration projects similar to the ones you mentioned?

    • Kaitlin says:

      Yes, generally, communities are supportive of the historic buildings and rehabilitation projects. However, there are exceptions. And politics. Train stations are often great rehabilitation projects because they can be partially funded by Transportation Enhancement grants and tax credits, which can go a long way in a low budget town. The links I included in the post are just a few examples of Vermont’s successful depot rehab projects.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Thank you for that correction. Yikes! Can’t believe I hadn’t noticed years ago, or someone else hadn’t noticed for me. I’ll fix it!

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