UPDATE (July 2014): SEPTA has committed to the restoration of Shawmont Station and is exploring potential reuse options. Additional historical research suggests that the station house actually predates the establishment of the adjacent rail line. CLICK HERE for an updated property history and HERE for additional timelines.
7700 Nixon Street, Philadelphia
William Strickland (attributed), 1834
Significance: Shawmont Station is the oldest surviving passenger railroad station in the United States, built in 1834 by the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad, the city’s first rail company. At the time of the station’s construction, the chief designer for PG&N was the famous Philadelphia architect William Strickland, whose other works include Merchant’s Exchange and the Second Bank of the United States. The modest Greek Revival station still stands in its original location in Upper Roxborough near the Montgomery County border, along side what is now SEPTA’s Manayunk-Norristown line.
Threat: SEPTA assumed ownership of the station in 1981 when the former PG&N line became the R6. Passenger service at the station was discontinued in 1991, but a caretaker resided on site until this year. The station and a small Victorian rear addition are now mothballed awaiting rehabilitation and a new use. Without regular monitoring and maintenance, the site’s isolated location leaves it prone to vandalism and the elements.
Recommendations: The station’s modest physical stature should not overshadow its profound significance in railroad history. In recent years, SEPTA has undertaken a number of commendable historic preservation projects, often in partnership with community organizations, small businesses, or other government agencies. Recent improvements to the Schuylkill River Trail along the adjacent Manayunk Canal towpath provide an opportunity for the station to serve a new generation, and a new mode, of travelers.
Media coverage of Shawmont Station: