Silver Spring B&O Station
Backstory and Context
The Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad began operations in 1873. In 1878, the railroad opened the Silver Spring station on this site. Washington Post editor Francis Preston Blair had convinced the company to lay tracks near his property, after which the train depot was named, rather than along a proposed path further west.
E. Francis Baldwin designed the original station, an ornate structure erected in 1878. For several decades, the station was a stop for commuter trains. Silver Spring was originally a small town centered around the railroad, but gained popularity as a bedroom community for DC workers in the years after World War I. The rise in automobile use paired with increased commuter train service to the area. In 1936, the B&O Railroad established a stop for all passenger trains at Silver Spring.
The original Victorian train depot was demolished in 1945 to build the current structure in the Colonial Revival style. The style gained popularity after World War II as it was identified with patriotism, and this station was built according to standardized B&O station plans. In keeping with the Colonial Revival style, the station exterior has a slate hipped roof, fan-light dormers, and granite window sills. It is the only twentieth-century railroad standing in Montgomery County, and only one of two remaining twentieth-century B&O stations in the state of Maryland.
The station contained a waiting room and a baggage room, with a ticket office in between them. The original waiting room furniture -- vinyl-covered seats with chrome frames -- remained in the station at least until 2000. The interior of the station features terrazzo floors and terra cotta block wainscot. The building also includes an office for the station agent, men's and women's restrooms, the original stone-walled basement from the 1878 structure, and an attic. A pedestrian tunnel underneath the tracks allows for the safe crossing to either side of the tracks.
The nearby Canada Dry bottling plant was sited near the tracks in 1946. The station featured a pedestrian tunnel that allowed passengers to safely reach both sides of the tracks. Amtrak assumed control of passenger service in 1971. In the early 1980s, Amtrak discontinued its service and the B&O, followed by Maryland Area Regional Commuter train service, provided commuter trains. Passenger travel operated out of the station from 1945 to 1997, when a car crashed into the building and damaged it.
The National Register of Historic Places recognized the station building in 2000. Montgomery Preservation owns and maintains the building
Browne, Allen C. Silver Spring B&O Railroad Station, Historical Marker Database. February 10th 2020. Accessed August 21st 2020. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=75802.
Courbois, Genevieve, Eileen McGuckian, and Nancy Urban. Silver Spring Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form.2000. Accessed August 21st 2020. https://mht.maryland.gov/secure/medusa/PDF/NR_PDFs/NR-1243.pdf.