WESTERLY, R.I. – In August 2018, the Westerly depot became the new temporary home of the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly, which exhibits artwork by members and visiting artists. The non-profit organization is leasing the depot from the state while its permament space a block south is renovated as part of the larger United Theatre project. In partnership with the gallery, rail passengers have access to the indoor waiting area and restrooms Wednesday-Sunday.
“Westerly Station is an important part of our transit infrastructure,” Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti said. “It is wonderful to see it come back to life with a new tenant. We appreciate the willingness of the Artists’ Cooperative to welcome Amtrak passengers. It creates a sense of vitality.”
Resembling the “great house” of a Mexican hacienda with its arcades and roofs of Spanish tile, the Westerly depot is representative of a period in American architecture when designers felt free to draw on a myriad of inspirations from across history and cultures. Constructed in 1912 by the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad—commonly referred to as the “New Haven”—it was one of a handful of Spanish Revival style stations built by the company in the early 20th century across southern New England. Interest in the country’s colonial Spanish ties was strong due to the admission of Arizona and New Mexico as states that same year.
In the late 1990s, the state of Rhode Island purchased the Westerly depot. RIDOT, working with the town and Amtrak, proceeded to plan and execute a full restoration of the building that returned it to its 1920s appearance while making allowances for modern mechanical systems such as air conditioning and electrical. The project scope included roof replacement, restoration of the waiting room plaster and woodwork, and cleaning and repair of the exterior.
Westerly is served by a dozen daily Northeast Regional (Boston-New York-Washington) trains; in fiscal year 2017, nearly 44,000 customers began or ended their journey in Westerly.
Read the RIDOT press release for more information.