U.S. Border Station, Beebe Plain, VT
The Beebe Plain Border Station occupies a 15,730 square foot site south of the Canadian border on the east side of Main Street, a two-lane village road, in the village of Beebe Plain. The site marks the northern end of the village. The masonry clad building stands in contrast to the predominantly frame commercial and residential buildings. The Canadian border station, located on the east side of the road as it crosses Canusa Street, is clearly visible to the north. The station building is awkwardly approached by all southbound traffic by crossing Main Street across a wide paved area at the north and west of the station. The site is generally level. A small frame garage is located to the east of the station facing Canusa Street.
As originally built, the station was approached through a one-lane portico projecting over a concrete drive in front of the building. This area is presently surfaced with asphalt. A concrete driveway, also paved with asphalt, led to the garage. All original concrete curbing has been eliminated. The remaining area to the east and south of the building was originally grass and remains intact.
The station building, constructed in 1937, is a simple, gable roofed, one-and-one-half story brick-clad frame structure built on a concrete foundation. The building is symmetrical, measuring five bays wide by two bays deep. Entry is made on grade to the center bay of the west facade. Window wells constructed of concrete originally permitted light to enter the basement at the perimeter. Each is presently backfilled or covered with plywood. Entry into the basement is provided through a hatchway at the base of the south facade. Fenestration is symmetrical on all facades.
The portico, which retains its original roof, is presently carried by plywood-clad steel piers that replaced the original wood piers in 1976.
The interiors of public and private spaces are consistently simple, functional, and non-monumental in character. The original basement and second floor plans, and many finishes, survive intact. The public offices of Immigration and Customs occupy the west half of first floor. This area originally contained a small entry vestibule and a public area separated from staff offices by a counter with glazed windows. The small office in the northeast corner originally served as a detention room when needed, and the former Customs office in the southeast corner is now furnished as a kitchen. A compact stairwell, flanked by small rest rooms originally intended for the public, is located in the center of the east half, connecting the basement and second floors. Second floor spaces, arranged around a small hall at the head of the stairwell, include additional staff toilet and shower rooms, and two large rooms presently used for storage. The basement, which was originally used for storage and mechanical space, retains its original uses.
Except where noted in the descriptions of zones, interior finishes are standardized throughout.
The Vermont border station located at Beebe Plain is one of twelve surviving complexes erected between 1931 and 1937 along the Vermont-Quebec border. This handsome Georgian Revival building was designed by the Office of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury and constructed in 1937.
As a group, the border stations are 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. The station at Beebe Plain, among the last to be constructed, exemplifies the simplification of design and economy of material brought about by the Depression while continuing many of the programmatic elements of the earlier stations. The station is one of a few located in an urban cluster, and the only station from this period located on the east side of the highway.
Today, the large concentration of contemporary, architecturally-related border stations surviving in Vermont is exceptional within the context of the United States. Beyond projecting an iconographic image of American architecture at the international border, the border station is a major masonry public building located in the town of Beebe Plain. It retains much of its original character-defining features, notably morphology, plan, masonry detailing and much fenestration.