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Historic Home of Former Railway Car Manufacturer is Now Student Housing in Worcester

Posted by Katherine Ferguson on Wednesday, August 17, 2016
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Edge at Union Station | Worcester, MA

Freshman Edge at Union Station has moved into Worcester, MA for the fall semester. This 81-unit student housing project has taken up residence at the historic Osgood Bradley Building and serves 10 nearby college campuses. 

Constructed in 1915, the Osgood Bradley Car Company (established 1822 in Worcester, MA) constructed an 8-story mixed-use retail and industrial building to manufacture railway passenger cars. The concrete frame and terra cotta building became a Worcester landmark during WWII, when the factory produced proximity fuses for anti-aircraft artillery systems that protected American aircraft carriers. Despite changing hands multiple times in the 20th century, the building underwent relatively little change in function, with the exception of reconfiguring space on the uppwer floors for offices.

Vision Development purchased the Osgood Bradley building in 2015, and began converting the former industrial and retail structure into an 81-unit market-rate student housing development called the Edge at Union Station, a project designed to accommodate 251 tenants attending various colleges and universities in Worcester. Completed in June of 2016, the rehabilitation succeeded in maintaining the historic aesthetics of the former factory while giving the structure a relevant new use. The brick and terra cotta facades were cleaned and restored. Where original glazed terra cotta tiles could not be repaired, they were replaced in kind with new or salvaged tiles to match the historic. The same protocol was followed for damaged bricks. Most of the original wood windows had suffered years of water damage and were too warped to be repaired. After removing the defective windows, new single-hung metal replacement windows with insulated glass were installed. Though new, these windows matched the historic in size, configuration, operation, and muntin-profiles. The developer also maintained existing historic storefronts on the first floor. New storefronts to match the historic were inserted into altered storefronts.

The historic two-story boiler house was refitted to include a management office with model unit on the first floor and an additional housing unit on the second floor. The structure’s exterior was treated with the same care as that of the main building. Although it was necessary to rework the interior to provide for a new use, the first floor was fitted with a double-height central entry foyer to maintain the sense of an open volume in the space, homage to the building’s original use.

Public support for Edge at Union Station project has continued since its completion. In a visit to the newly opened Edge at Union Station, Massachusetts Lieutenant Governer Karyn Polito called the project “transformational” and expected that it would increase foot traffic in Worcester’s downtown business district. Mere steps from historic Union Station, the former Osgood Bradley building is an important landmark in the downtown Worcester. Its new use as market rate housing promises to breathe new life into the city’s downtown commercial district.