Yorktown Heights Railroad Station
Yorktown Heights Railroad Station is a former stop on the Putnam Line in Yorktown Heights, New York. The station was originally built in 1877 by the New York, Westchester, and Putnam Railway. In 1981, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After our complete restoration work, it is now the central feature of Railroad Park.
In the early Spring of 2018, my company was asked to bid on the restoration of Yorktown Heights Railroad Station, and I was thrilled! As a child, many, many years earlier, I would lay in bed and listen to the train whistles echo through the still, dark night. When the Putnam Division Railroad that served the Yorktown Heights Station went defunct in the early 1960s, I became obsessed with the former right-of-way. As a young teenager, I walked the entire route from the Bronx all the way up to Brewster in four consecutive weekends. The rusted rails, the leaning telegraph poles, and the remaining abandoned stations all evoked in me a sense of the end of a former time and the uncertainty of the future. After a few more years, the tracks were removed. Some of the stations were remodeled and put to other uses, but most suffered neglect, fell apart, and one by one, were demolished.
During the 1980s I almost purchased the Millwood station, but the deal fell through at the last minute, and after two more decades, it was demolished as well. That left only the Yorktown Heights station, which remarkably continued to remain more or less in its original 1877 configuration. Sometime during the 1990s, a fire started, but luckily, the Yorktown Fire Department was able to extinguish the blaze before the extremely flammable, wood frame structure burned to the ground. For the next 20 years, the station languished, as plans for its complete restoration were made and delayed, until finally, all obstacles were overcome and the project was ready to bid. Because part of the project was to be funded by the NYS Department of Transportation, there were requirements unfamiliar and challenging to a Historic Restoration Company like mine, but we submitted a bid in September of 2018 and were chosen to perform the project. Almost another year would pass before the contract was signed. A start date of December 2nd was chosen, not the best time of year to start a four month, mostly outdoor project, but start we did! Fortunately, the winter of 2019-2020 was unusually mild, and we were able to continue work right through the COVID-19 pandemic. By early summer of 2020, the project was complete! Not only had a long term dream of mine come to a happy conclusion, but the Town of Yorktown now had a unique, shining jewel of the bygone era of railroading as the central feature of Railroad Park. Enjoy the progress photos below, and visit the park in person if you are nearby and able. Tom
Work began December 2, 2019, not the best time of year to begin a project with a substantial amount of outside work! Luckily, the winter of 2019-2020 proved to be a mild one.
New rafters fabricated and installed. Roof made weathertight, and we reconstructed the historic cross gable which had been removed sometime in the past.
Window sashes going to a specialty shop to be restored or reconstructed.
Rear roof with historic entry overhang rebuilt.
Copper gutters installed, valley fabricated and soldered, and Vermont slate shingle installation begun.
Slate shingle installation almost complete and decorative sidewall cedar shingles in progress.
The entire sill beam (the large 8x8 beam that sits on the concrete foundation and supports the building) was badly rotted. Replacement involved jacking and supporting the building, replacing the sill beams, stud bottoms, and floor joist ends, and then lowering the building back onto the sill beams.
Walls were 3" out of plumb, necessitating side jacking, then installing bracing within the walls to resist further racking. Bracing in place, new sill in place, new insulation in place.
South side sill, siding, and trim replaced and primed.
Floor joists and stud bottoms for new sill.
Carrying in the new timber for the north side sill. One of the many tasks for the five-man crew.
New copper leader, cast iron clean-out tee, and underground drainage ready for the heavy spring rains.
Historic chimney reconstructed using period brick, guided by historic photos for size and location.
The interior needed extensive reconstruction as a result of a fire in the 1980s.
Insulation installation in the red-hot, June attic. Voted the least fun part of this project by the faithful Clemco crew.
18th century salvaged yellow pine flooring from a demolition project in Virginia was re-milled to create tounge and groove bead-board that matched the original railroad station interior paneling.
The interior looks great, and nobody can tell the difference between the replaced bead-board and the remaining original bead-board.
Spring on the way, and the exterior is virtually done, except for the finish painting and the historic Yorktown sign. We custom made the new sign to match historic images of the original sign which had disappeared nearly a century ago.
Ribbon cutting ceremony on July 7, 2020. A very hot day was made even more uncomfortable by the required COVID-19 masks! At least nobody fainted!
The Town plans to use the station as a visitor's center
for park and rail trail patrons. Stop by for a visit!
We build beautiful new homes and restore historic buildings, churches, and houses. Since 1975, we have offered award-winning historic restoration and construction services throughout Westchester County and Putnam County in New York State.