Boston Seaver Street and Humbolt Avenue (Franklin Park) Loop

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  • Member since
    June 2002
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Boston Seaver Street and Humbolt Avenue (Franklin Park) Loop
Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 1:11 PM

From Richeard Allman:

Seaver Street Module  (Excerpted by Dave Klepper)
Richard L. Allman, MD, MS
East Penn Traction Club
Operation on the Seaver Street extension of Main Line Transit has commenced. It connects to the main layout via a single-track turnout facing away from Bay State Junction and passes through the yard module enroute to Humboldt Avenue and Seaver Street.
The prototype of the module sits at the northern edge of Franklin Park in the Roxbury section of Boston. Trolleys ran along Seaver Street until September 1955 between Egleston Square and Mattapan Station in Dorchester. The cars between the loop at Seaver Street and Dudley Station by way of Humboldt Avenue ran until early 1948 when the line was converted to trackless trolley operation. As a little kid, I watched with fascination as the Type 4’s plied their way along Seaver Street and the Type 5’s trundled along Humboldt Avenue, along with the occasional appearance of PCC car 3001, the “Queen Mary”. Indeed, I was overzealous in my 4-year-old enthusiasm, wandering from my grandparents’ home to watch all the trolley action and being unable to find my way back! I still suffer the psychic trauma of returning to Roxbury in the summer of 1948 and seeing no trolley action on Humboldt Avenue. Some things scar you for life! At least I had a chance to ride the trolleys to the magnificent station at Dudley and to see the two loops and the El. There was a kid hanging onto the back of the trolley catching a free ride. My parents warned me never to do that and so far, I haven’t.
This has been a lengthy and arduous endeavor. Since I began this project, my grandson, now 8 was born, I planned to retire then was summoned to duty as interim chair of Rheumatology at Einstein, have entered and graduated from a Master’s program in healthcare ethics at Creighton University, have seen my granddaughter grow from a neonate to a pre-teen, and done all the other things that have given me too many excuses for not finishing the module
 In the latter part of the first decade of this century, I brainstormed with Bob Dietrich about a potential extension of my layout. I considered three potential prototypes:

1.      Arlington Junction in Baltimore, which while interesting, I never saw in real life, and was lacking in structures and was a bit too rural for what I sought;

2.      Egleston Square, where the trackwork and need for the Elevated were far too daunting;

3.      Seaver Street loop at the north edge of Franklin Park in the Roxbury area of Boston, where the trackwork, while complex, was doable and further, held significant personal ties, near where my grandparents lived. My grandfather caught the trolley to Mattapan at the shed on Seaver Street on his way to work in a tailor shop in Milton. The trolley operation was familiar, and the venue held so many personal memories from my childhood while visiting Boston from our home in the Philadelphia suburbs. This became my choice in around mid-2008. With many fits and starts, the task began.

First came the benchwork, where Bob’s assistance was essential. (These details will be on the MR Forum.)
The structures are a tale. The apartment house at 100 Seaver Street was made from a kit from CMR in Baltimore. Would you believe the model kit is called the Severin Building?! It was close though somewhat different. It has four instead of the prototypic 2 front bays, but the effect is pretty close. The kit as sold is 6 stories and to make it a prototypic 4 stories, I needed to replace the middle 4-story section with two additional one-story sections, which were graciously provided by Jeff Springer of CMR. The CMR kits are complex and intricate, but the directions are amazing for their clarity. I have told Jeff that their kits should be advertised as coming together in 1000 easy steps!
 The building at 108 Seaver Street on the corner of Seaver and Humboldt was completely scratch-built. In the era that I modeled, it was the Roxbury Young Men’s Hebrew Association. They acquired the building from the estate of the original owner, Simon Goldsmith around 1918. The building was constructed in around 1898. The only thing I have been able to discover about Mr. Goldsmith was that he had an imposing home built at 108 Seaver Street and that the architect was H.H. Hathaway. All I could find out about the architect was that he designed a home for Simon Goldsmith! In 1962 it was sold to the Berean Adventist Church and is still owned by them and is a thriving faith community.
HO scale brick styrene sheets were used, windows, railing and doors by Don Tichy were used. Shingles were from Nick and Nora. I found some stone sheets of different sizes for the front porch and for the foundations. Styrene strips were used for the porch and porch hand rails. For the sills and lintels, styrene strips were used. The turrets on the building were a challenge and without the brainstorming with Bob Dietrich could not have been done. We found pieces of 2-inch plastic tubing and sanded the backs of windows to fit flush, then carved out the window apertures in a sheet of styrene brick (actually several sheets-there were several screw-ups along the way!). The window glass was applied to the back of the masonry window frames and painted black. The windows then were cemented into the back of the styrene. After several fits and starts, we found a thick, goopy cement that with clamping would hold the styrene and window assembly to the tubing with meticulous bracing. The same was done with the foundation pieces. The side turret was made from a piece of tubing cut lengthwise for a 180-degree segment. The corner turret was more complex: the lower floors were a 270- degree wrap-around and the top was 360 full-cylinder. No way would styrene strips adhere to the curve for lintels and sills. Fortunately, I found some peel and paste stone material from Micro Mark that worked well. The conical top of the corner turret Bob made by casting-it is solid! The roof was made of foam-actually two thicknesses of pink insulation board which was planed into shape. The dormers were made from sheet styrene. Cutting out the window apertures is not for the timid! The front bays: the 3-story one on the left and the one on the second story on the porch were framed with trapezoidal wood pieces. The joints were trimmed with 90-degree styrene strips and the look seems OK. The roof of the 3-story bay was made with creased styrene sheet. The colors and precise dimensions are a good faith guestimate. No color photos of the era I modeled, 1945-1948 are available. I photographed the building extensively and was helped by the Jamaica Plain Historical Society, but it is still a guess. I am unsure how it would have been perceived if I had walked around the perimeter of the building with tape measure!
The other structure on the module is the waiting shed on the outbound track on Seaver Street. This was a kit I got from Jim Harr of Stella Models.
The structure that is missing is the Texaco Station on the northeast corner of Seaver and Humboldt. Here is the story about that. It opened on January 1. 1952. Coincidentally, I was in Boston on that date, visiting my grandmother. However, the lot was empty when the Humboldt Avenue trolley was operating. Bob thinks I need a station there for appearances. The problems are that it would be historically inaccurate and further, HO models of gas stations with the service bays on the right and the office on the left are hard to impossible to find. I have put a tank on the lot to indicate a future gas station! Apparently, the Boston Parks Department was very fussy about what could be on the perimeter of Franklin Park.
The street lights are the new Woodland Scenics lights which are easy plug-in and look rather authentic.
I also am not quite sure what to do about traffic lights. No one seems to make 2-sided right-angle traffic lights. I would welcome any suggestions! I still need a street sign and some 1940’s cars and a few more people. The tweaking of the overhead will go on for a while.
Purists will notice several non-prototypic features for which I can only plead for forbearance:
Humboldt Avenue came into Seaver Street at a 135-degree angle and I have a 90-degree angle, of necessity for space constraints;
The terrain was not flat. Humboldt Avenue rose on a hill into Seaver Street, and Seaver Street was hilly. The loop was in a dip between hills to the east towards Blue Hill Avenue and to the west towards Egleston Square which it would reach first with a rise from the loop then a descent to Egleston.
The apartment building at 100 Seaver Street has two and not four front bays
The shelter on Seaver Street needs to be shifted to the west in the center of the turnout.
The credit list looks like it belongs at the end of a Scorsese movie, but it is essential to the story:
The books by Bradley Clarke on Boston trolleys and trackless trolleys, which were vital resources for track planning and some important views for the landscape. Brad also patiently answered question that I posed;
The Arcadia Book on Roxbury which had photos of the loop that were valuable;
The Jamaica Plain Historical Society, and especially Richard Heath who provided much historic context;
Tony Tieuli, who always knows the most arcane but necessary factoids for accuracy. Tony seems to come up with a crucial photo at exactly the right moment. Most recently was his reminder to add the orange bands to the line poles where car stops were located. He also had the candor to tell me where a mistake was made, such as the correct height for the hill at the west end of the loop;
Charlie Pitts who offered a lot of information about modeling tips and about other items of Boston history;
Leo Sullivan provided several helpful photographs;
Manufacturers, including Custom Traxx and George Huckaby. George provided both materials and priceless advice; Jason’s Brass Poles and Brian Weisman; Jim Rivers; Rich Eaton; CMR, Jim Harr; Woodland Scenics; Scenic Express; the independent unnamed dealers at the various train shows-Timonium, Springfield, World’s Greatest Hobby who came up with all the needed building supplies at critical times; Nick and Nora for shingles, Don Tichy for windows, doors and top porch railings.
To Charlie Long and George LaRue, who helped with important small but essential tasks at critical times with such things as simply getting all the modules linked. Showing up at a critical time makes a difference;
To Fred Sauerburger who provided some great materials for the ground surface;
To my son-in-law, Mark Matta who helped brainstorm and permanently link the yard module to the main layout;
To Bob Dietrich who was the ever-present critic and mastermind and troubleshooter for all things structural, scenic, electrical and everything else. Simply look at the turrets and you will quickly get how vital his contributions are;
To my grandparents, Annie and Barney Allman, whose selfless lives and love are the backdrop and inspiration for this project. Sixty + years after their deaths, this model will keep their memory alive. I hope they would have found it interesting. They always cared about what excited their grandchildren.

The full letter and photographs will, I hope and plan. be posted on the Model Railroader Forum.  Boston's first PCC, No. 3001, lacked a door on the left side.  The Dudley-Sever Street via Humbolt Avenue line was one of only two where it could be operated.  Others required double-end and/or left-hand door cars.

  • Member since
    April 2018
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Posted by Jones1945 on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 4:18 PM

Some pics can be found here:


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