Michael F. Dwyer
Laurel Railroad Station
East Main & Second Streets, Laurel, Prince Georges County
The Laurel Railroad Station is a one-story common-bond brick structure constructed in 1884 in the Queen Anne style. The east facade, facing the tracks, is six bays wide, with entrances in the first, third, and fifth bays from the south end. The first three bays are covered by a shed-roofed porch overhang, supported by large wooden brackets. The fourth bay projects slightly, and this and the two north bays are capped by a hip roof, much higher than the perpendicular gable roofline, with front and rear pediments decorated with a stylized tree-branch motif in the tympanum. The north bays have a shed-roofed overhang similar to the one to the south, and are surmounted by a clipped gable with fishscale shingles in its tympanum. The west side of the building is much the same, but with no doorways. The overhanging slate roof has exposed rafters on the west and south sides of the southern portion. All roof ridges are decorated with terra cotta acroteria. A single interior chimney stands near the south end of the roof ridge. The walls are constructed in all-stretcher brick, and rest on a granite base. All windows have segmental arches with molded bricks, and granite sills. Windows in the north and south ends consist of three sets of narrow 2/2 sash windows with stone lintels and sills, beneath a segmental brick relieving arch. A brick water table and stringcourse surround the building. Originally, the top sash of the windows were filled with "Queen Anne" panes, consisting of a single pane surrounded by many small panes. These upper sash have been replaced with single lights over four below. Transoms over the doorways also once held "Queen Anne" panes, which have also been replaced. The floor plan consists of five rooms. The southernmost room, with a single entrance in the east, was the baggage room. The next room to the north was the general waiting room, which opened onto the platform to the east and to an office in the eastern projecting bay. The ladies' waiting room, in the room to the north, opened onto the platform and to a ladies' toilet, to the west of the office.
The Laurel Railroad Station was designed by E. Francis Baldwin, architect for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, who constructed office buildings, churches, university buildings, and the rear wing of the Maryland State House and the Court of Appeals Building in Annapolis. Railroad stations form an important phase of 19th century architecture, both structurally and aesthetically. Railroad companies hired outstanding architects to design their stations, particularly in the latter half of the 19th century. The B&O had hired architect Frank Furness to design many of their stations in this period, and his influence may be seen in the terra cotta ornament, the stubby, corbel-supported roof brackets, an din the handling of the masses and outline of the station. With the creative eclecticism of the 1890s, the wood decoration of the gable ends would qualify the Laurel Station as "American Queen Anne" in style. Long in disfavor, such examples of 19th century "transportation picturesque" are becoming increasingly rare, and few are in such unaltered condition. The Laurel Railroad Station has been adapted for use as the Laurel Metro Station, still serving the public as the local center of rail transportation in Laurel.