Our tour begins at the “gateway” to our town, the train station, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1897-98. Even then, many Rutherford residents commuted to and from New York City. Designed by the Erie Railroad’s chief engineer, it replaced a station built in 1862 on land donated by prominent resident Daniel Van Winkle. His family's company, A.W. Van Winkle & Company Realty, is the oldest real estate firm in the United States, and still has offices at the corner of Station Square and Orient Way. A photo of their original building from the 1860s is below
The station is an excellent Renaissance Revival design that remains largely unchanged. This architectural style, popular from about 1890-1930, used columns, arches, and other elements from ancient Greece and Rome, which had been previously revived during the European Renaissance (c. 1400-1600). You will see several buildings in this style on our tour.
The station’s central building is 215 feet long and made of brick and limestone, with limestone Tuscan pilasters (columns partly embedded in the walls) at the main entry. Loggias (roofed galleries open at the sides) with wooden Doric columns share the green asphalt shingle roof. A belvedere (a space designed to take advantage of a view) at the eastern end has an open circular rotunda with a conical roof, 20 feet in diameter. The view was very different in 1898!
The station reportedly inspired William Carlos Williams’s poem “To freight cars in the air”. Here’s a short piece from that poem:
“all the slow
moving above the treetops
of the hoarse whistle…”
William Carlos Williams, “The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Vol. 1”
Now we will turn to right as you face Park Avenue, to the next buildings on our tour, shown in the 1901 photo below.