National Historic Register Listing
The Railroad Station
West Brookfield Center Historic District Boundary Expansion
The Railroad District
The West Brookfield Center Railroad district is significant for its association with early railroad development and its impact on the development of the town of West Brookfield. The district has a collection of generally well preserved buildings associated with the railroad’s development.
The West Brookfield Center Historic District Boundary Increase has been accepted by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the National Park Service, Department of the Interior for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The expansion encompasses all or portions of several streets: Central St., Mechanic St., Sherman St., Milk St., Front St., Ware St., Long Hill Rd., Old Long Hill Rd., Railroad Avenue and Freight House Road.
In 1839, this section of the town center was built up in response to the opening of the Western Railroad and to the subsequent growth of the town and its industries during the second half of the 19th century.
An important focal point is a group of railroad buildings including two former passenger depots (1847 and 1884) and a freight house (1847). Construction of the Western Railroad was begun in 1837. In 1839 the segment to West Brookfield opened. The original passenger station built in 1839 was replaced in 1847 with a much larger station. It originally included a large waiting room, a ladies parlor and a 75 foot refreshment room.
In 1884, this station was moved to its present location on Ware Street.
In 1884, a new Boston & Albany passenger depot was built on this site on Front Street. This station is typical of the Richardson Romanesque stations that became the trademark of the Boston & Albany line. In recent years it served as the West Brookfield Senior Center and is now the home of the Quaboag Historical Society. Built in 1847, the Western Railroad Freight House, with Greek Revival details, remains intact today.
According to Susan Ceccacci, these three railroad buildings rank among the earliest recorded in the files of the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the two 1847 buildings may be among the oldest existing in the United States.
Many laborers on the railroad were Irish immigrants who chose West Brookfield as their home. They settled in cottages built near the stations. A large hotel was opened in 1855 and survived until destroyed by fire in late 1880. In the mid 1800s several boot factories and a corset factory began operation in this area.
The Center Historic District Boundary Increase adds 58 buildings, sites, and structures to the original Center Historic District established in 1990.
This project was researched by Susan Ceccacci, Consultant, with the help of the West Brookfield Historical Commission and was funded by the J. Irving England and Jane L. England Charitable Trust.