C&A Dwight Depot

Also known as: Dwight Railroad Depot
E Main St., Dwight, Illinois

Preserved Chicago & Alton Railroad Station

Photos 

Photo taken by Steve Conro in December 2012

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Description 

Preserved Chicago & Alton/Gulf Mobile & Ohio railroad station. Station served as an Amtrak station until 2016, when a new station opened to the south.

From Amtrak's Great American Stations:

"The old depot, which opened in spring 1892, will continue to house the Dwight Historical Society museum and the Dwight Chamber of Commerce. Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb, who also designed buildings at the University of Chicago, the Newberry Library and the Chicago Post Office, drew up plans for the Dwight depot. It is one of the few remaining late 19th century stations still standing between Chicago and St. Louis. It replaced a smaller wooden building that had been on the site since 1854, shortly after the village was founded.

The 75-foot by 25-foot depot was built in the Richardson Romanesque style, which is strongly associated with the Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson. The style is characterized by squat, compact buildings usually constructed with unfinished stone in dark red, tan, brown and gray hues. The asymmetrical compositions were often pierced by deep-set, round arches reminiscent of medieval Romanesque structures found in Europe; polychrome decoration was also a common feature.

Walls of rock-faced Bedford blue stone from Indiana rise from a foundation of Joliet stone. Due to the stone’s textured surface, it displays an ever-changing interplay of shadow and light as the sun moves across the sky. Both of the central cross gables have a pair of double-hung windows on the ground floor; the second floor features coupled windows with a Gothic fanlight and the name “Dwight” carved into the stone above it. An elaborate finial tops off each cross gable. Passengers were protected from inclement weather by a deep canopy. The original gabled roof and canopy featured durable slate tiles – an incombustible necessity in the age of steam engines.

Two waiting rooms, each with a fireplace, occupied the ground floor. Cathedral ceilings in each waiting room had open rafters and oak wainscoting that created light and airy spaces. The ticket office stood in the center, marked by a projecting trackside bay that allowed the station master to monitor traffic up and down the rail line. The road master had his desk on the second floor.

In 1946 the interior was remodeled: the fireplace in the north waiting room was torn out, the ticket office reduced in size and the interior painted in a tan and light brown combination. The slate roof was also replaced with mule-hide sheeting. New fixtures were put in the restrooms and fluorescent lighting installed. Just south of the depot stands the stone freight office, which was built in either 1892 or 1893. In 1986 it was remodeled to become the home of the Dwight Chamber of Commerce.

Intercity passenger rail service at Dwight ceased in 1971, when newly-formed Amtrak took over most of the nation’s intercity passenger rail services. The depot was then used as an office and storage space for the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, successor to the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio, which had in turn subsumed the C&A. Maintenance was subsequently neglected, but the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

In 1983, the depot was renovated for use as the Village Hall. When Dwight built a new Village Complex in 1998, it offered the depot to the Dwight Historical Society. The society moved its museum into the north end of the building; the south end holds both a meeting room and the office of the Dwight Chamber of Commerce."

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on December 27, 1982
Reference number
82000398
NR name
Dwight Chicago and Alton Railroad Depot
Architectural style
Victorian: Romanesque
Areas of significance
Transportation; Architecture
Level of significance
State
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Building
Historic function
Rail-related
Current function
Warehouse
Period of significance
1875-1899
Significant year
1891
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 1
Non-contributing buildings: 1

Related landmarks 

Sources