Skip to content

Search Collections

Metropolitan Railroad Company architectural drawings collection

Description

This collection consists of thirty architectural drawings of Metropolitan Railroad Company stations by various Boston architects, three of whom are identified. David Simpson designed fourteen of the plans, which are of the Norfolk House at Roxbury and include elevations, sections, floor plans, and framing plans of the engine house, car house and stables. John D. Wester designed two plans. One of these is an alternate proposal for the facade of the Norfolk House and the other is a proposal for an unidentified car house. Joseph R. Richards also designed two plans, which are both of an unidentified stable. The twelve remaining drawings were drafted by unidentified architects. Three are of a small car house, eight are of a car house and stable, and the last is of an unidentified building.

Details

Collection Name
Metropolitan Railroad Company architectural drawings collection
Collection Code
AR028
Dates
1860-1865
Abstract
A collection of thirty drawings of car houses and stables for the Metropolitan Railroad Company created in the early 1860s by various Boston architects.
Acquisition Type
Gift
Physical Description
30 architectural drawings
Finding Aid Info
An electronic finding aid is available through Historic New England’s Collections Access Portal. A paper finding aid is available in the Library & Archives.
Collection Type
Architectural and Cartographic Materials
Description Level
Collection
Custodial History
The custodial history of these materials is unknown.
Credit Line
Gift, Frank Cheney, 1994.
GUSN
317435
Reference Code
AR028

Historical/Biographical Note

Incorporated in 1853, the Metropolitan Railroad Company constructed and operated one of the earliest horse drawn railways in the Greater Boston area. The company laid its first tracks, which ran from Roxbury to downtown Boston in September 1856 and by 1870 had built stations in Milton, Jamaica Plain, East Boston, Brookline, Back Bay, and Dorchester as well. Accompanying the development of these stations, were rail car houses tailored to suit the needs of the horses that drew the passengers. Most often, stables were constructed adjacent to the car houses for this purpose. The largest of these terminuses was at Roxbury Station. By 1862 it included an engine powered mill to grind the horses’ grain.

The Metropolitan Railroad Company issued a call for proposals from architects in the Greater Boston area for designs of these stations. Three of the architects who responded the call for proposals included Joseph R. Richards (1852-1900), John D. Wester (1835-1889), and David Simpson (1913-1866). Their work is represented in this collection.

The expansion of Metropolitan’s railways and stations came at a time of great concern for overcrowding and unsafe transportation in an industrializing urban setting. Proponents and critics of Metropolitan usually compared the railcars to their unpopular predecessors and contemporaries, large carriages known as omnibuses, which cramped and jostled their passengers. One reporter commenting on Metropolitan’s incorporation sardonically noted "the experiment is certainly worth trying, for the evil can not be greater than it is" (The Pittsfield Sun, 1853).

Sources
The Boston Directory: Embracing the City Record, A General Directory of the Citizens, and Business Directory. (1873). Boston: Sampson, Davenport, & Co., 991. May 16, 1853. (1853). The Pittsfield Sun. Shugar, Miles. (2014). "From Horse to Electric Power at the Metropolitan Railroad Company Site: Archaeology and the Narrative of Technological Change." Scholarworks at UMass Boston, Paper 283, 23-25.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged in four series by architect, which are arranged into subseries by project if they worked on more than one. The arrangement is as follows:

- Series I. David Simpson, 1862
- Series II. John D. Wester, c. 1860-1865
- - Subseries A: Proposal for Norfolk House at Roxbury, c.1862
- - Subseries B: Unidentified Proposal, c. 1860-1865
- Series III. Joseph R. Richards, 1863
- Series IV. Unidentified Architects’ projects, c.1860-1865
- - Subseries A: Unidentified Car House, c. 1860-1865
- - Subseries B: Unidentified Car House and Stables, c. 1860-1865
- - Subseries C: Unidentified Building, c. 1860-1865

Record details

Originator
Metropolitan Railroad Co. (Boston, Mass.)
Other People
Richards, Joseph R., 1828-1900
Simpson, David, 1813-1866
Wester, John D., 1835-1889
Other Organizations
Metropolitan Railroad Co. (Boston, Mass.)
Descriptive Terms
horse-drawn vehicles
horsecars
public transit
railroad stations
stables (animal housing)
Material Type
architectural drawings (visual works)
Places
Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)
Cambridge (Middlesex county, Massachusetts)
Jamaica Plain (Boston, Suffolk county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]
Roxbury (Boston, Suffolk county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]
Restrictions
This collection is available for research.
Related Items
Boston Transit Archive, 1895-1960s
Transportation - Horse cars
Accruals Note
Accruals are not expected.
Conservation Note
The following conservation and preservation activities have been completed on this collection:
- A drawing of a floor plan by David Simpson has been placed in a mylar sleeve to keep a torn piece together with the drawing
- The proposal for the Norfolk House at Roxbury by David Simpson was framed for an exhibition by Historic New England
Language Note
Materials are entirely in English.
Physical Access Restrictions
There are no physical restrictions on this collection. There are no technical restrictions on this collection.
Preferred Citation
Item identification. Box #, folder #, Metropolitan Railroad Company architectural drawings collection (AR028). Historic New England, Library & Archives
Processing Information
This collection was processed by Sean Ferguson, March, 2016.
Rules and Conventions
This finding aid is DACS-compliant.

Browse Collection

Use the links below to browse up and down the collection hierarchy from the current record.

Comments