Thursday, December 5, 2013

Building Waterbury: 4 - Sign or No?

The feedmill building that used to stand across the tracks from the Waterbury, Vt. station was - how to put this - rather plain.
I know there was nothing but a very small "cement" sign on the front of the building by the late 1940s - since a George Corey picture shows it clearly. However the building did have a neat sign on the front back in the 1920s (for a prototype picture see my earlier post).
Actually, there was also a neat "Gold Medal Flour" sign painted on the front of the building as well.
So, the question became, include the sign or not on the model? Even if it was slightly out of era for my layout. 
Virtually every one of the people I asked confirmed my instinct to include the sign - although it will be more faded and weathered than shown here (this is simply a paper print out propped on the front of the building). 

Besides, my modeler's license is fully paid through the next few years….

But I've already started thinking through the next few building for the Waterbury scene - the Demeritt Cannery. 


Riley said...

You are onto an interesting topic here. I believe an optimal decision goes beyond both questions of aesthetic preference or prototype faithfulness. I think the inquiry should also include, "which version supports your goal for establishing the mood/message/meaning of the mise en scène?" As in theater production, artistic license is best employed in model railroading to support the overall concept of the layout versus nut and bolt accuracy or personal aesthetic preferences alone.

So maybe the root question is, "what are you trying to convey to the viewer in the Waterbury scene (and on the layout in general)?" Sans sign, the scene will probably tend towards being read as more forlorn and maybe challenging and new and less vibrant, while a freshly painted sign connotes maybe a more established economic activity, optimism and maturity of community - regardless of your chosen historical timeline.

You've got a great layout going, and I'm enjoying following your progress. Thanks for taking the time and effort to share it!

john hajnosz said...

Marty, The demerit creamery, is that the structure just south on the same side of the station, if so do you have older photos of this structure still in original condition. I also like Rileys' comment on preference and faithfulness. I'm just finishing up the CV freight house and decided to model it in original condition, oxide red with grey trim with that Central Vermont maple leaf herald even though that would be an earlier date. JOHN

CVSNE said...

John - No, you're thinking of the building commonly called the "Moody" Creamery.I'm referring to the Demeritt Cannery complex - a larger complex further from the station. Will do a post on it shortly as I'd prefer not to tie up the information on it in the comments on another building.
What's you're modeling era? Per a photo I just saw this week the Waterbury freight house (at least the two-story) section was completely devoid of paint in the 1950 timeframe - in fact it looked better in 1975 than it did in 1950!

CVSNE said...

Thanks for your reply and your thoughts capture mine perfectly. I think some model railroaders have become too quick to dismiss Ellison's "model railroad is a stage" analogy. If you appreciate set design, lighting, etc.. as it applies to adding to the dramatic effect of a play or movie his analogy is still quite relevant. I believe there may be the nugget of a blog post or two in your comments - hope you won't mind if I quote you! Marty

George Dutka said...

Hi Marty:
If I built that structure I would include the sign, although totally weathered and just adds history to the building...if the structure still survived today and had not been painted in a decade or two I would not be surprised to see the lettering from that painted on sign come though the overcoated paint...I have seen that many times in my own home town...George

john said...

Marty, As a reference I'm using photos in the Ambassador that shows some switching moves with the street side baggage door open, I've made the baggage doors slideable so I can leave them open or closed. I also saw some colored photos of CV structures painted in that oxide red color with grey trim. I just liked the way it looked.. I'm trying to construct scenes that if I ran a steamer or later diesel both would look ok. I like using North Bennington scene as an example, a Vermont railway GP-40 or a Rutland 2-8-0 would look good in that scene today, minus Whitmans Feed store expansion. I am also modeling this scene. So I guess you can say I'm modeling 50's to late early 80's, but for me nothing can beat a string of 40 foot boxcars !!! Thanks for all of your research and information. JOHN

Benjamin Hom said...

I'm fine with including the sign, especially to aid the operator working the town. It may not help the lowest common denominator operator (c.f. last session), but it should help anyone with a modicum of common sense.

Riley said...

Quote away. :) I agree with you that there is some fertile territory for exploration.

I wonder what are the consequences of shifting the role of actor from the train (where Frank Ellison put it) to giving that role to the human operator. The evolution of model railroading is currently headed towards emphasis on the experience of the operator and no longer on (solely) the passive viewing of train-actors.

I like this trend where the interaction of operator with the layout is becoming central to modeling versus treating the layout as a museum exhibit. I believe the cutting edge is where layouts want you to FEEL what a particular railroad is like to be apart of and not just replicating the LOOKS of a particular railroad. More realistic operations are part of this as well as what innovators like Trevor Marshall ( and are doing by creating way bill boxes and large scale switch stands on the fascia.

E-Mann said...

Marty, like George, I would also include the sign but as a faded version. We try to establish a sense of time and place on our layouts and signs are solid clues for an observer to sense the time and place of a modeled scene. The signage lends a stamp of authenticity to the scene and reinforces other scene elements that point to a specific time and place. Although the sign was not apparent in the era you model, it is a strong element of the place you model.

Sorry for deleting the previous post, but too many quirky misspellings crept into the posted version. I now return to my morning coffee.

- - Eric H.

riverman_vt said...

Hi Marty,

If you feel the Seabury building is "plain" I'm wodering if you have found any photos of the west end of it without the Mt. Mansfield Elecric trolley partially blockkng one's view? I regretted seeing Vermont Coffee tear the structure down a year or so ago as does Laz Scangas, the architect who
was cheifly responsible for the restoration of the depot. I regret even more not taking photos of it in years past myself. In the early 1960's I saw that building severfal times a week either trucking cans into what you refer to as the "Moody Creamery" (Lyle Moody only passed away 2-3 years ago) and I refer to as the Cabot Co-op Creamery, Cabot being the last operator of it, or when unloading two carloads of bagged grain from H. K. Webster of Richford, VT that was received every other Monday and took two afternoons to deliver to Cabot shippers from Warren & Waitsfield as far north as Stowe.
If memory serves there was a "notch" out of the northwwest corner of the Seabury building to clear the trolley line. I remember seeing it but cannot remember exactly how it looked because it was just another building I saw regularly. I have just spoken to Laz, however, and he recalled being told about it as well. Perhaps the one storey addition on the north side of the building was rebuilt after the mid-1960's, I don't know, but if you cold find a photo of the building showing the "notch", incorporate it into your model and place a little code #55 rail passing the "notch" to represent the abandoned trolley track I'll bet you could create more interest in the stgructure that way than with any sign you might imagine!

Will try to check with the ladies at the historical society when "home" in a few weeks to see what can be found. In the meantime, however, please don't think of it as a "plain" structure. It was a nice, well built structure which I'm sorry is no longer with us. And E. Demerritt's cannery and mill buildings looked better than anything Green Mountain Coffee has replaced them with! Should you
decide to model the Whiting Creamery that our milk went to in most years that I can help with photos of. Can do the same with the Cabot Creamery if needed. You have a great station scene and I hope you model more of it!

My best, Don Valentine

CVSNE said...

Hi Don,
Please don't read "plain" to mean I find the building uninteresting or unworthy of duplication in miniature. I simply meant "plain" in comparison with some of the "imagineered" craftsman structure kits available on the market. A couple of weeks before writing this post I attended the Fine Scale Modeler Expo in Pittsfield. The selection of kits available in the dealer room and showcased in the contest room presented a stark contrast to the appearance of the prototype buildings in the surrounding countryside. I find New England vernacular architecture offers a perfect complement to the trains and the surrounding countryside. I'd even go as far as to say New England architecture has a "refined, simple dignity" - almost elegant in their own way.
Few if any craftsman structure kits available today look even remotely like real New England buildings yet you'd be shocked to learn how many who, upon learning I model "New England" immediately jump to the conclusion that the layout is populated with craftsman structure kits! (In fairness, a few manufacturers, primarily BEST Trains, and to a somewhat lesser extent, South River Modelworks, certainly capture the look and feel of New England buildings.
Regarding the west wall of the feed mill - it's freelanced on my model since I've never been able to find a good view of the building that isn't obscured. I'm fairly certain the building was cut off at an angle on the north gable wall to clear the Mt Mansfield tracks. I've seen a very blurry aerial overhead that shows a pronounced angle to the roof in that corner of the building, suggesting it was arranged at an angle.
As an aside, I've also been told - perhaps by Jim Murphy - that the two story building adjacent to the freight house was the original Mt Mansfield station/freight house but I've never been able to confirm this.
Re: Moody Creamery. I call it that since that's what the Sanborn Maps, and perhaps the CV engineering plats, called the building. I wasn't originally planning to include the Whiting Creamery on the layout, but a planned alteration to the peninsula will leave sufficient room for the creamery and it's siding - although it may be in the "wrong" location relative to the station. I've seen one Pete McLachlan photo of the creamery - I believe it's somewhere on this blog - but would love to see other photos of the place since Pete's photo only shows one end wall of the building clearly. There was also a strange hose/support structure on the front wall of the creamery that shows up in Pete's photo - I've heard a couple of theories on what it was for but no one able to confirm it.
Thanks for writing.


CVSNE said...

Don, Here's a link to the Wordless Wednesday post with the Pete McLachlan photo of the Whiting Creamery in Waterbury -

Anonymous said...

This is just trivia. I have been typing my grandmother's diaries and adding footnotes. This blog is the only reference I found on the internet to Moody Creamery. I was not positive it was in Waterbury. She writes:
6/18/1951 - Mon.
Awful hot. Clyde worked with gramp on Moody Creamery. Went for a ride at night.

They both were my grandfathers and they worked on the building until 24 July 1951. They were Clyde C Brink and Archelaus W Sweetser

Thanks for your blog which allowed me to find the answer to where Moody Creamery was.

Gene Sweetser