Train Station Translation: American Colonial Architecture
A testament of American values
An examination of popular architectural styles used at American train stations starts with the nation’s infancy. More specifically, it begins in the mind of one of our founding fathers.
Thomas Jefferson imagined a new kind of architecture . . . one that captured the democratic ideals of his young America. Inspired by the classical styles of Greece and Rome, he developed the American Colonial style. Jefferson’s own home (Monticello) and his masterpiece (University of Virginia campus) exemplify this uniquely American architecture. Built in 1713, Old State House (pictured above) in Boston, Massachusetts exemplifies American Colonial architecture at its best.
When it comes to train stations, established communities with a rich architectural heritage (or a much-revered American Colonial facility) should consider this style—it can strengthen ties and community pride.
Metra’s Midlothian station speaks the American Colonial vocabulary. Inspired by the clubhouse at Midlothian Country Club, the station mixes locally obtained materials (i.e., warm, reddish brick and limestone accents) with classical details like white columns and rows of windows. Its focal point, a tiered clocktower, displays classical touches, such as a white dome, an entry arch, and a fence-like element. This facility stands as a testament of American values.
American Colonialism Design Vocabulary
- Local materials
- Second story overhangs
- Small leaded windows
- Double-hung windows with small, equally-sized square panes
- Classical detailing
Boston Old State House photo courtesy Chensiyuan.