U.S. Border Station, North Troy, VT
The North Troy Border Station occupies a 60,000 square foot site approximately 500 feet south of the Canadian border on the west side of Vermont Route 243, a two-lane state highway. The site marks the northern end of the village of North Troy, but is visually remote from other village buildings. The Canadian border station, located on the east side of the highway, is visible to the north. The station building is approached by all traffic directly from the highway, which is connected by a continuously paved area at the east. From the highway, the site slopes gently upward to the west. The inspection station is the only surviving building on the site. As originally developed, the station building occupied the eastern third of the site, with a two-lane canopy projecting over a concrete drive in front of the building. The area to the east of the station is presently surfaced with asphalt. A gravel driveway circled the station at the rear, providing access to three duplex residences at the rear. Sections of this drive, which are now paved, survive. Concrete curbing, which remains in place, defined rectilinear parking areas at the north and south edges of the east concrete drive. Most of the site to the west of the station and around the residences was originally grass. Of the three stations of similar design included in this report, the one at North Troy is the latest but best preserved example. The simple, Georgian-Revival gable-roofed core with hipped-roof wings is constructed of American bond brickwork. Like its companion station at North Troy, it lacks brick quoins at the corners, and most original windows openings are trimmed with Vermont marble. The building retains all of its original sash. Like most other stations, woodwork is covered with aluminum trim and siding. The original two-lane canopy extending from the center of the east facade terminated in an ornate wrought iron railing. The site has been greatly altered from its original clustered appearance by the removal of the three residences in the 1980's. The core and wings are built on a concrete foundation. The core is a symmetrical brick block measuring five bays wide by two bays deep. Entry is made up a half step to the first floor at the center bay of the east facade. A deep areaway, constructed with concrete retaining walls, permits entry into the basement below grade on the west facade. Fenestration is not symmetrical on the west facade of the core. The wings, are each one story in height, four bays wide by one bay deep. Entry is provided on grade at the east, and above grade by a non-original ramp in a former window opening on the south facade of the south wing. A small brick addition housing the well projects from the south end of the north wing on the west facade. The existing one-lane, steel-framed canopy projects eastward from the east facade of the center block. It replaced the original wood canopy in 1973, and is slightly larger in height than the original. The interiors of public and private spaces within the core are consistently simple, functional, and non-monumental in character. Most original plans, volumes and finishes survive intact. Public offices of Immigration and Customs occupy the east half of first floor, divided from administrative offices of the respective bureaus to the west by original glazed partition. A compact stairwell, adjoined by small rest rooms originally intended for the public, is located in the center of the west half, connecting the basement and second floors. The second floor contains additional administrative offices, two former detention cells now used for storage, and original storage areas. 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 north garage retains many of its original finishes. The south bay of the south wing was converted to public rest rooms in 1973, approached on grade by a ramp along the south wall. Except where noted in the descriptions of zones, interior finishes are standardized throughout. Walls and ceilings are typically finished with smooth painted gypsum plaster. Picture moulds are used in the offices. Painted wood baseboards are typically comprised of a plain fascia washboard surmounted by a running cyma reversa mould. Most have been partially removed to permit installation of new baseboard radiators. Doorways typically contain painted six-panel wood doors enframed within a running molded surround comprised of two flat fascia planes bordered with a deep cyma reversa mold along the interior edge, and a flat cyma recta mold at the perimeter. Doors are hung with brass hinges, and operated with brass knobs with inset cylinder locks. Windows are enframed with simple running molded surrounds terminating in projecting bullnose stools. Most original lighting fixtures have been replaced with ceiling mounted florescent units, but several original brass incandescent fixtures survive in storage areas. Most floors are finished with non-original wall-to-wall carpet.
The Vermont border station located at North Troy is one of twelve surviving complexes erected between 1931 and 1937 along the Vermont-Quebec border. This handsome Georgian Revival building, designed by the Office of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury and constructed in 1937, shares common technical, stylistic and programmatic features with other stations constructed at that time.
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 part of a massive public building program that nearly doubled the number of Federal buildings, and followed 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. Of this group, the North Troy station, which is nearly identical but better preserved than those at Richford and West Berkshire, is the last of the Prohibition-era designs to be constructed. Beyond projecting an iconographic image of American architecture at the international border, the North Troy border station retains most of its original character-defining features, notably morphology, plan, masonry detailing and much fenestration.