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Germantown Then & Now: Germantown Train Station

Burned down in the 1970s, Germantown Train Station was rebuilt to its 19th century splendor, the vision of a famous Baltimore architect.

Today, Germantown Train Station is used as a waiting room for commuters and has a coffee shop, Alafia Crossing, operated by Bota King.

More than 800 passengers board the trains that leave the MARC (Maryland Area Regional Commuter) train in Germantown every weekday morning, a stop along the Brunswick Line that travels from West Virginia to Washington, DC.

CSX Transportation owns this line of rail. But the tracks used to be part of a Baltimore & Ohio network dating back to the 19th century.

Germantown Train Station was built in 1891, replacing a smaller frame station built in 1878.  The building consisted of two large waiting rooms heated by wood stoves and separated by a ticket office. There was a door connecting the two rooms on the inside, and both rooms also had doors to the outside on both the train track side and the road side. The ticket office had both an outside and an inside window for selling tickets.

Germantown’s station was a Ephraim Francis Baldwin (1837‑1916) design almost identical to the buildings in Kensington and Dickerson.

In fact, nearly all of the station houses on the Metropolitan Branch of the B & O Railroad were designed by the famous Baltimore architect.

Baldwin is most recognized for the large Victorian gothic style station at Point‑of‑Rocks, MD, built in 1875. His small, one‑ and two‑room station houses were also very significant architecturally. The original station houses at Rockville,
Kensington, Gaithersburg, Dickerson and Point of Rocks still stand and are all
county historic sites.

Vandals burned down the Germantown station in 1978.

Montgomery County rebuilt Germantown train station with the help of federal funding in 1987. The station was reconstruction on its original site and with the original plans of Francis Baldwin, which were archived at the B & O Railroad Historical Society.

But there are some differences: There’s only a single room on the inside and a punch-out addition on the east side, thicker boards were used for the trim, and the “Germantown” name board was placed on the building rather than from the eave.

The waiting sheds built in 1997 are taken from original designs for waiting sheds and milk platforms made for the B & O Railroad in 1906, which were also archived at the B & O Railroad Historical Society.

For more information see The Met: a History of the Metropolitan branch of the B & O Railroad available at the Germantown Historical Society at www.germantownmdhistory.org or email info@germantownmdhistory.org.

Susan Soderberg is president of the Germantown Historical Society. She writes a monthly column for Germantown Patch.

David Bross January 27, 2013 at 06:32 PM
What a wonderful and informative article.. Susan Soderberg is a Germantown treasure!
Matt January 28, 2013 at 04:09 AM
I wish the platform had a larger covered area like Rockville. It's pretty and quaint until it's pouring or sleeting.

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