Andover Station is a restored railroad station and museum filled with railroad artifacts. It is the home of the Andover Historical Society.
The building originally began life as a Georgian town house. Later it was a school and then the museum. It also houses the Danebury hillfort exhibit. A coffee shop is available.
Andover’s residents, past and present, have given much thought and planning to the building that houses the Station. They have spent many hours restoring and repairing it; collecting and cataloging artifacts, large and small; and sponsoring the Old Time Fair on the first Sunday in August, an event that has become an annual tradition for the town.
Back in the days when trains made regular stops here, the place was a hub of activity. Trains stopped at set times for passengers, freight, and mail. Mail trains brought in out-going letters and carried them away, just like our UPS or FedEx trucks do today. Those who traveled the Erie railroad here can still recall their arrival at Tip Top, the high point on the tracks, where a train had to muster all its power to make it over the grade.
Andover’s station also served as a satellite ground station for the communications satellite Telstar in 1962. Engineers at the Andover Earth Station had to wait 15 hours for a signal transmitted from the satellite, which was in a non-geostationary orbit, to reach them. This was due to the very low power transmitter aboard Telstar (about 14 watts). The giant horn antenna, 7 stories tall and weighing 340 tons, was shaped like a Dacron radome. Its purpose was to amplify the signal sent from Telstar and transmit it back to earth.
The building that houses Andover Station was originally Andover’s third railroad station and was built by the Andover & Wilmington Railroad from 1838-1848. During this time trains would carry passengers, mail and freight to distant points. This busy depot was the hub of Andover township life as ticket were sold, sacks of mail were dropped off and incoming freight was loaded onto wagons that chugged along the tracks.
In later years the building was used as a lumber and feed store, plumbing business, theater and a senior drop-in center before being bought by Andover Historical Society. Historical Society members have been working hard to preserve and display this important part of Andover’s history.
During the 1940s, Andover’s citizens spent countless hours manning the observation post at Andover Station and publishing a newsletter to support their sons and daughters fighting for freedom in Europe. The town also organized a fire department and began renting the old Sackett’s store building for use as their new firehouse.
Today, the Andover Station is an MBTA Commuter Rail stop on the Haverhill Line with one platform and a mini-high platform for accessibility serving both tracks. The station and building are maintained by the Andover Historical Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, sharing and teaching about the history of Andover, Massachusets and its people. Memberships and donations are always welcome!
Artwork from aspiring local artists is now on display at the train station, thanks to a project by The Art Society Test Valley. People waiting for their trains can now see work in both the platforms one and two waiting rooms. The artwork will be changed three times a year, giving more young people the chance to have their work seen by the public. The frames were donated by The Community Rail Network and the project was arranged by Anne Isherwood and Jan Wells, who are volunteers at The Art Society, with help from Daniel Holmes, station manager.
Other exhibits tell the story of Andover’s past, including the town’s earliest railroad station and the fire that destroyed the elegant Proctor House Hotel in 1886. That event put Andover firmly on the map as an up-market tourist destination. It also brought progressive ideas to the area, including women’s suffrage and an independent school with a focus on practical applications of science. Today Proctor Academy is on the National Votes for Women Trail and boasts a new Brown Dining Commons that is the “greenest” school dining hall in New England with 40 geothermal wells, solar panels and rain gardens to capture run-off.
The Historical Society’s busy organization maintains four historic buildings, two railroad cars and two special sites in town. Its Old Time Fair on the first Sunday of August and other presentations throughout the year keep the community connected to its past. The Society also cares for, catalogs and periodically displays large collections of historical items and documents.
The parking lot that houses Andover Station is a bit of an adventure to navigate for those unfamiliar with the area. There are a few different entrances to it, and you can be ticketed if you park outside of the designated areas.
The best way to get there is by car, as it is a few miles south of Andover proper. Take Rt. 495 south to exit 99 (Andover/Lawrence), then turn right at the end of the ramp. Follow that road through Andover center until you reach Chapel Avenue, and the Academy is the first building on your left.
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