From train station to library: Briarcliff Manor

Briarcliff Manor station in the early 1900’s

Of the many old train stations I’ve featured on the site over the years, too many of them have been converted into other things and are no longer have anything to do with railroads. This is especially so when the railroad line the station served has been completely ripped out. It is somewhat bittersweet – as it is sad the railroad is gone, but yet wonderful that someone has taken the time to ensure that the historical building still exists. Too much of our old architecture has been torn down and long forgotten.

The old Putnam Division station at Briarcliff Manor is one example of a building that has been preserved and repurposed. And it is great to see that it has been converted into something as noble as a library (and not a Starbucks, of all things!). A library just seems so appropriate for an old station – it is our temple of knowledge, our archive of history and the written word – housed in a historical landmark, a vestige of a defunct and at times forgotten railroad.

Architect’s elevation of the front of the library. The original portion of the building is shown uncolored.

The Briarcliff Manor Public Library as it is today. The right portion in the photo is the original 1909 station, the left is an addition completed in 2009.

The Briarcliff Manor station was originally built in 1909 by the founder of the village, Walter Law. In the late 1950’s passenger service on the Putnam Division ceased, and the town raised the 12,500 dollars to purchase the building. Additional money was raised for cosmetic work, and to convert the building from a station into a library. The building, however, was not a large one, and it eventually became too small to appropriately house the library’s collection. After years of planning and debate, it was ultimately decided to add on to the original structure. Construction on the addition began in 2007, and was completed in 2009. The interior of the older portion of the building still requires work, but will become a reference area, and most appropriately, a local history section.

Construction about to begin at Briarcliff Manor, 2007 [image credit]

Construction of the addition to Briarcliff Manor, June 2008 [image credit]


Joe Schiavone, known as the “Old Put Guy,” gives a talk at Briarcliff Manor. The former rail line is slightly visible, located in between the fence and the road. It has been converted to a rail trail.

Schiavone has written three books about the Putnam Division. You can support the Danbury Railway Museum by purchasing the two most recent from their gift shop.

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