U.S. Border Station, Alburg Springs, VT
The Alburg Springs Border Station occupies a 41,760 square foot site adjacent to the Canadian border on the west side of Springs Road, a two-lane secondary road. The site is rural in character, located approximately 1.5 miles north of Alburg Springs, a cluster of frame, primarily residential buildings. The Canadian border station, located on the east side of the road is visible to the north. The generally open site slopes upward from the road to the west. A small frame garage is located to the southwest of the station. As originally built, the station building included a one-lane hip-roofed portico projecting over a concrete surface approached by a circular concrete drive. An additional gravel drive connected the road to the garage. Gravel walks led to the porches on the north and south sides of the building, which served as the private entrances to living quarters for the resident agents. A separate gravel walk connected the garage driveway to the basement hatchway and public toilet located behind the building. The remaining area between the portico and the road, and to the west and north of the building, was originally grass, which survives. Unlike other stations, the walks and drives do not appear to have been defined by concrete or granite curbs. The site retains this general plan, although drives have been widened, the south entrance walk has been replaced with a new ramp leading from the garage drive, and the rear walk has been lost through disuse. Drives and active walks are presently surfaced with asphalt. The station building, constructed in 1937, is a simple gable-roofed, one-and-one-half-story brick-veneer frame structure built on a concrete foundation. The building is symmetrical and, as originally built, was three bays wide and two bays deep, with the center bay of the east facade projecting from the wall plane and serving as the base of the portico. The projecting bay was removed after 1969. At present, the entry is made up two steps to the center bay of the east facade. Window wells constructed of concrete originally permitted light to enter the basement. Each of these is presently back filled or blocked. Entry into the basement is provided through a hatchway at the base of the west facade. Fenestration is symmetrical on all facades. The portico, which retains its original roof, is carried by replacement piers at the east and west. The station originally housed the resident agents and is divided east-west through the center into two living quarters. The scale and finishes of interior spaces are consistently simple, functional, and residential in character. The original basement and second floor plans, and many finishes, survive intact. The original shared public office of Immigration and customs, eliminated with the removal of the projecting east bay, is now located in the former living room areas, behind which were located kitchens. Very compact private stairwells lead up from the living rooms to the second floor spaces, divided into two bedrooms and a bathroom in each quarter. Second floor spaces are arranged around a small hall at the head of the stairwell. The basement, which was originally used for storage and mechanical space, retains its original uses.
The Vermont border station located at Alburg Springs, designed by the Office of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury and constructed in 1937, is one of twelve surviving complexes erected between 1931 and 1937 along the Vermont-Quebec border. This group of buildings is closely associated with three major themes in twentieth century American history: Prohibition (1919-1933), the popularization of the automobile, and the Depression of the 1930's. The stations are also associated with a massive public building program that nearly doubled the number of Federal buildings, coupled with the extensive rebuilding of Vermont's road system following the Great Flood of November 3, 1927. Today, the large concentration of contemporary, architecturally-related border stations surviving in Vermont is exceptional within the context of the United States.
The station at Alburg Springs, which which was among the last of the group to be constructed, was a post-Prohibition era design accommodating residences and offices for Customs and Immigration inspectors within one building. The symmetrical brick building contained fewer Colonial Revival details, was more compact, and included a one-lane hip-roofed portico supported by wooden piers that was more solidly integrated with the main roof, unlike the earlier examples. Lacking connected garage wings, the station site was furnished with a two-bay detached garage to the south. Although the principal facade has been altered, the station continues to project an iconographic image of American architecture at the international border, and is a major masonry public building located in the hamlet of Alburg Springs. It retains much of its original character-defining features, notably morphology, plan, masonry detailing and much fenestration.