Introduction and Background

A substantial amount of new information regarding the Kirkwood Train Station has been obtained and/or confirmed since the architectural drawings, provided by Barb Byerly, have been reviewed.  In addition to those drawings, a photograph that hangs above the ticket counter has also provided a great deal of information about the building, the former passenger platform, and surrounding area.

From earlier research conducted by the Kirkwood Historical Society, we know the following facts.

  • The property (noted as a right-of-way) was obtained from Owen Collins by the Pacific Railroad in 1852.
  • The track for the Pacific Railroad to Kirkwood, Missouri was completed in 1853. The first train arrived in Kirkwood on May 11, 1853.
  • Railroad service to Kirkwood began on July 19, 1853, when the Pacific Railroad of Missouri extended west to Kansas City, Missouri. The entire line was not completed until 1865.  The name was changed to Missouri Pacific in 1872; it merged into the Union Pacific in December 1982.
  • In 1863, a wood frame depot was originally constructed on the site and remained until the present depot building was constructed in 1893. Douglas Donovan, a general contractor located in Kirkwood, Missouri, constructed the present facility.

The Kirkwood Depot

After carefully studying the architectural drawings, our subcommittee has determined that we have copies of documents from two different time periods.  Presently, we have some of the architectural drawings that were used to design and construct the original passenger depot.  In addition to those documents, we also have some of the architectural drawings that were created when the building was substantially renovated in 1941.  We are very fortunate to have theses documents and believe that they will be extremely helpful as we create new drawings for restoration purposes.

The oldest document, dated April 4, 1893, identifies the conceptual design for the station and is titled, “Proposed Passenger Depot, Kirkwood, Missouri”.  Later documents, titled “Passenger Depot, Kirkwood, Missouri”, used for the construction of the building, are dated April 15 and April 18, 1893.  Unfortunately, there is no reference to the architect or engineer who created the original design.  The renovation drawings, prepared by the Office of the Chief Engineer of the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, are dated August 23, 1941.  Having these documents from different time periods is significant because it clearly identifies how the facility was originally designed and constructed and how it was modified in 1941.

While the Kirkwood train station has undergone a series of minor renovations and improvements since the 1941 renovation, it has remained essentially unchanged since that time.  One very important task that will need to be determined as restoration efforts move forward is, which period of architecture should be honored.  Probably the most logical response would be a hybrid solution where elements of the original building are blended with the 1941 renovation but ultimately, that question will be answered as our committee formulates a uniform direction. Our committee’s final report will include drawings, photographs, recommendations for building stabilization and restoration, and an estimate of probable construction costs.

The 1893 Kirkwood Passenger Depot

In 1893, the exterior of the Passenger Depot looked similar to today’s facility with a few exceptions.  Certainly, the most notable element missing today is the 50-foot passenger canopy that extended up to Webster Avenue (Kirkwood Road).  In addition to that element, the original entry on the north façade was substantially different than we know it today.  The interior was modified substantially which we believe was driven by operational changes as to how the station functioned internally.  The following paragraphs will describe in more detail exterior and interior elements and amenities.

Exterior Conditions:

The north façade of the building was designed for passenger drop-off and as the main pedestrian point of entry.  The original building was constructed with an elevated porch that extended approximately 10 feet beyond the north façade, under the canopy.  This area, known as the “carriage porch” was approximately 10 feet wide and allowed enough room for one carriage under the canopy.

Access into the building was through an “exterior” vestibule that allowed passengers to enter directly into the Lady’s Waiting Room (located on the west side of the building) or the Gentlemen’s Waiting Room (located on the east side of the building).  Railroad personnel also entered the Ticket Office from this vestibule.  The vestibule was actually an exterior space and did not have exterior doors that separated it from the porch.

Entry into the waiting rooms from the vestibule was originally through a pair of 6 foot wide “sash doors”.  One pair of doors was located on the east wall of the Lady’s Waiting Room and another pair of doors was located on the west wall of the Gentleman’s Waiting Room.  The boarding side (south façade) of the building had two pairs of exit doors, one located in the Lady’s Waiting Room and the other located in the Gentlemen’s Waiting Room.

The building had two central stone chimneys that penetrated the high roof.  They were centered on the building and were approximately 12 feet apart from one another.  A third stone chimney, located in the Baggage Room, was identified on 1941 drawings as an item to be removed so it is uncertain if it was original to the building or if it was added sometime between 1893 and 1941. The documents do not identify how the building was originally heated but the size of the chimney flues are relatively small so it can be assumed that freestanding coal-fired stoves provided heat to the depot.

Attached to the east façade of the depot was the passenger platform canopy that provided additional waiting space and overhead weather protection for passengers.  The approximate size of the platform’s roof was 20 feet wide and 50 feet long.  The canopy was supported by three columns and was connected to the depot’s east roof at the west end of the platform.  According to the building photograph, the pavement below the passenger canopy was approximately 10” to 12” below the main floor of the building.

The exterior materials of the building have remained essentially unchanged except for the roof and soffit.  The original roof covering was identified as tin (in the shallow pitched areas) and metallic shingles (in the steep pitched areas).  The building did have metal gutters and downspouts but the material was not identified.  The soffit material, while not identified on the documents, was probably constructed of wood, painted a very light color.  The exterior stone is a native limestone that may have been quarried in southern Missouri or the near region.  All windows and exterior doors were constructed of wood.  The upper sash of the double-hung windows was originally glazed with colored glass except for the center pane, which was glazed with clear glass.  The drawings did not identify the color of the glass.  The original doors were constructed of a combination of wood and glass except for the baggage room doors, which were constructed solely of wood.

Interior Conditions:

The original floor plan of the depot consisted of an exterior vestibule and a central Ticket Office that was flanked by the Lady’s Waiting Room to the west and the Gentleman’s Waiting Room to the east.  The rooms were not open to one another so the feel of the depot was much smaller due to the separating partitions.  The approximate size of each of the waiting rooms was 750 square feet and the approximate sizes of the Vestibule and Ticket Office were 144 square feet and 314 square feet respectively.  In addition to those spaces the building contained a dedicated Men’s Toilet Room, Women’s Toilet Room, and a 425 square foot Baggage Room.

The original Gentlemen’s and Lady’s Waiting Rooms were similar in size, features and finishes.  Each waiting area received abundant natural light from windows and doors located on the south and north facades.  The Gentlemen’s Waiting Room also received natural light from three windows located on the east façade.  The floor structure in this area of the building was originally constructed of 2” x 10” wood joist that spanned from the north and south exterior walls to a concrete grade beam located in the center of the building.  The finished floor consisted of wood planks set in an ornamental pattern.  The finish material on the exterior walls and dividing partitions was plaster, which extended from floor to ceiling.  The substrate below the plaster of the dividing walls was brick but the substrate of the exterior walls was not identified.  The original plaster ceiling in the waiting rooms was flat in the center and coffered (angled) at the perimeter of each waiting room.  The flat area of the ceiling was approximately 15’ – 1 ½” above the floor.

The Women’s Toilet Room was directly accessible from the Lady’s Waiting Room.  The Men’s Toilet Room was accessible from an exterior door, located on the north façade.  Both toilet rooms featured a single toilet fixture located behind a modesty partition.  According to the drawings, the toilets appeared to be of the “wooden bench type”, popular during that time period.  The toilets were probably of the flush-type that relied on water from a remote cistern located in the attic.  Lavatories (sinks) were not identified on the drawings and may not have been included in the original facility.

The Ticket Office was accessed directly from the vestibule by a single door on the north wall.  It contained one ticket window that opened into the Lady’s Waiting Room and two ticket windows that opened into the Gentleman’s Waiting Room.  The south exterior wall, constructed in a semicircle plan, projects approximately 7 feet from the building’s south façade.  Providing views to the south, east and west, the south wall was constructed with three double-hung windows that are also radial shaped in design.  The south end of the room included a built-in, 36” deep counter that was located directly below the window stools (interior sills).

The vestibule that connected the Lady’s Waiting Room, the Gentlemen’s Waiting Room, and the Ticket Office was constructed as an exterior element and had no exterior door that secured the space or protected it from extreme temperatures.  The south wall of the Vestibule was inset from the north façade by almost 14 feet.  The space was constructed with a concrete floor that was finished with ceramic tile set in a diamond pattern. The walls were constructed of brick and more than likely, finished with plaster.  The ceiling of the Vestibule was plaster and was slightly higher than the adjacent Ticket Office ceiling.

The Baggage Room, located at the west end of the building was designed with two sliding doors that were located on the north and south sides of the depot.  In addition to the doors, the Baggage room had two windows located on the west façade.  This space included a concrete floor but no other finishes (walls and ceiling) were identified on the original documents.

1941 Alterations to the Kirkwood Passenger Depot

After 48 years of continuous use, the Kirkwood Depot was scheduled for renovation.  Drawings prepared by the Office of the Chief Engineer of the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company were prepared in August of 1941 and construction followed soon thereafter.  It appears from the available drawings, dated August 23, 1941, that renovation notes were added directly to copies of the original construction documents.  This is beneficial in that it is extremely valuable to see how the original building was modified by the renovation.

Exterior Modifications:

Most of the modifications that altered the building that we know today, were executed during the 1941 renovation.  As the nineteenth century came to a close and the twentieth century brought new technology to the forefront, horse drawn carriages disappeared, automobiles became the modern mode of transportation, and passenger train travel was in its “golden age”.  These changes dictated operational modifications to aging railroad depots, which in turn, required them to be updated to the modern standards of the day.

The 1941 exterior renovation of the Kirkwood Depot changed the look of the building in several ways.  The carriage porch under the canopy was removed and the driveway was widened.  The two freestanding columns that support the entry canopy were modified by removing the stone wheel guards on the inside face of the columns.  A low garden wall that connected the columns in the east-west direction was also removed in order to provide better passenger access to the improved building entrance.  New exterior entry doors were added to the north façade, thus eliminating the former exterior vestibule.  Other modifications included the removal of three existing stone chimneys and the construction of a new stone chimney adjacent to the west wall of the Baggage Room.  The new chimney supported a new coal-fired furnace that was located in the Baggage Room.  The north façade was also modified by the addition of a new coal chute door near the west end of the building and the removal of the exterior door to the Men’s Toilet.  The previous door opening was partially in-filled with stone and a small window, similar in size to the window in the Women’s Toilet Room.

The east façade remained essentially unchanged except for the complete removal of the passenger platform structure (columns) and canopy.  All colored window glass in the upper sash all of the double hung windows throughout the building was removed and replaced with clear glass.  The existing clear glass in the upper and lower sash of the windows was to remain in place.

The south façade of the building also remained unchanged except that the pairs of exit doors from the waiting rooms were replaced with a single door that was flanked by two sidelights.  The west façade remained unchanged.

Perhaps one of the most extensive exterior modifications to the building, other than the demolition of the passenger platform, was the removal of the original metal roof.  The entire structure’s roof, including the dormer over the bay window was removed and replaced with a copper roof in the low slope areas and with asbestos cement shingles in the steep slope areas.  The exterior dormer walls also received new asbestos cement shingles.  The 1941 renovation did not include replacement of the metal finial over the dormer roof.  In addition to the roof, the entire existing soffit was removed and replaced with asbestos cement board.  The renovation documents do not indicate if the original gutters and downspout were replaced during the 1941 renovation but it is highly likely that they were.

Interior Modifications:

Interior modifications during the 1941 renovation were substantial.  The entire ornamental wood floor, including the structural (2” x 10”) floor joists located in the two waiting areas and the ticket office was entirely removed.  The former crawl space (approximately 18” deep) was filled with sand and a new 5” thick concrete floor slab was placed inside the depot.  The brick and plaster partitions (including the two chimneys) that subdivided the two waiting rooms from the Ticket Office and the exterior vestibule were also removed in order to create a new central Waiting Room.

The renovated Waiting Room received all new finishes.  The new concrete floor was covered with 9” x 9” asbestos floor tile, the walls received a knotty pine wainscot that extended up to door height (approximately 7’- 0”) and the ceiling received ornamental cypress beams and beam blocks.  The coffered ceiling was maintained on the north and south sides of the room but the east and west ends were demolished and eliminated.  According to the documents, the entire ceiling was re-plastered due to the elimination of the coffered ceiling and associated ceiling joist modifications at the former exterior vestibule.  The west end of the Waiting Room was modified to incorporate a new telegraph counter, a new supporting closet, and a new doorway for access into the Men’s Toilet Room.  The present Women’s Toilet Room received a new door to match the new door at the Men’s Toilet Room.  Supply air diffusers were added to the coffered ceiling on the north and south sides of the Waiting Room.  A new electric drinking fountain was located on the inside face of the north wall.

The new interior vestibule that was created by the addition of new exterior doors on the north facade and new interior partitions incorporated finishes similar to the waiting room.  Flanking the vestibule on the west side was a niche for locker cabinets that were accessible from the waiting room and flanking the east side of the vestible was a niche for a telephone booth.

The existing Men’s and Women’s Toilet Rooms were demolished and reconfigured to receive new plumbing fixtures.  Both rooms received a new water closet, a new wall-hung lavatory, new mirrors, and new metal modesty partitions.  The Men’s Room also incorporated a new urinal.  The floors and walls received new ceramic tile.

The new Ticket Office was no longer separated from the Waiting Room by partitions.  A new u-shaped ticket counter was fabricated and located so that it was centered on the bay window.  Access to the Ticket Office was through a counter-height door located on the west side of the space.  Two new closets were constructed on the east and the west side of the Ticket Office and were connected overhead by a plaster arch that extended up to the ceiling.  The closets also provided a dedicated mechanical chase for the new heating system.  Finishes and materials of the Ticket Office matched those of the Waiting Room.

The existing Baggage Room was altered to include the new coal-fired furnace and a dedicated coal bin that was constructed of wood studs and wood siding.  A new service sink was added at the northeast corner, adjacent to the north baggage door.

Post-1941 Alterations to the Kirkwood Passenger Depot

While minor modifications and alterations have continued to develop since 1941, the Kirkwood Passenger Depot has changed very little in the last 73 years.  New interior materials and finishes have replaced old and/or worn out products such as the new flooring in the Waiting Room and new plumbing fixtures in the restrooms.  New technology has been integrated into the depot such as LED lighting, automatic door opening devices, and flat screen televisions.  Fortunately, most of the original materials remain in tact from the building’s original construction in 1893 and the 1941 renovation.