In the Bronx, a Push to Save Cass Gilbert’s Train Stations

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The elegant, decaying station at Westchester Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard, cloaked in ivy that is either glorious or spooky, depending on the time of year and quantity of leaves, is rendered in the style of an Italian palazzo. Featured in a 1909 Architectural League exhibition, Gilbert’s station design was “universally admired,” The New York Times reported.

To the south, the Hunts Point station, on Hunts Point Avenue near Garrison Avenue, is a dramatically dormered, ramshackle beauty whose steep-peaked, red-slate roof once boasted a contrasting patinated verdigris copper cornice. “French Renaissance in style, it might have been the royal stable of a French king,” Christopher Gray, an architectural historian and former “Streetscapes” columnist, wrote in 2009.

Majora Carter, who grew up in the area, has bought an easement from Amtrak with her husband, James Chase, for one dollar, which allows the couple to develop the station. They plan to convert it into a multipurpose event hall called Bronxlandia with money raised in part by a crowdfunding effort open to those with $250 to invest. They are working closely with the State Historic Preservation Office in the hopes of qualifying for tax credits.

Most of the polychrome terra cotta on the south facade, facing the street, was ripped out decades ago for storefronts. But the terra-cotta north facade, where stairs once went down to train platforms, is largely intact, including a lovely frieze below the cornice featuring a red diamond against a blue background. The developers plan to rehabilitate that historic fabric.

A new station is planned just north of the old one, one of four Metro-North stations to be built in the Bronx as part of a $2.87 billion project that will enable New Haven Line trains to reach Penn Station. When that new Hunts Point station opens in 2027, “everyone arriving will be looking right at the back facade” of the old station, said Jay Valgora, the principal of Studio V Architecture, which is designing the project. “And that will become the front door of the neighborhood.”

On the Hunts Point Avenue side, beneath the remaining original terra-cotta frieze, he plans a contemporary storefront of glass and steel “that is open to the street to support Majora’s mission to transform the building into a cultural hub.”

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