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History

Built for the Boston & Albany Railroad in 1894 for $9,778, the Depot was designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, the architectural firm formed by the H. H. Richardson partners after Henry Hobson Richardson’s sudden death at the age of 47.

Henry Hobson Richardson designed nine railroad depots himself for the B&A RR and Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge worked on 23 others that were “in his style”. The Trinity Church in Boston amd the Palmer Railroad Station, now known as the Steaming Tender Restaurant, are two other examples of his designs. 

As H. H. Richardson said to one client, “I’ll plan anything a man wants, from a cathedral to a chicken coop.” Compared to the Trinity Church in Boston, the East Brookfield Depot may be the size of a chicken coop, but what a fine chicken coop it was!

The rounded walls, gently curved roof, and eyelid dormer of the East Brookfield Train Depot are a trademark of H. H. Richardson, “one of the most innovative architects of his day responsible for the revival of the Romanesque style in the United States.” The East Brookfield Depot is an architectural gem… We cannot afford to lose another historical icon. Read more about H. H. Richardson here

The Last Train Stop

On March 30th, 1960, the last commuter train stopped at the East Brookfield Depot for a very special trip.  At 7:45am, Eighteen 5 and 6 year olds from Joan Bedard’s Happy Days Nursery School boarded the Boston & Albany train for a trip into Worcester for the day.  The engineer waved at the excited youngsters as the train pulled in.  A conductor lifted the children and they took over one of the two passenger cars.  Ironically, their first train ride ended up being the last for the East Brookfield stop.  It was surely something to be remembered.

Boston &Albany Railroad Station, East Brookfield, Mass.
Architect: Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge (inspired by H.H. Richardson)
Contractor: Norcross Brothers (“The Master Builder”)
Construction: 1893-May 1894
Cost: $9778

The last four B&A stations by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge were evidently commissioned as a group about mid-1893 and were finished by 9 May 1894. For all of these stations, including East Brookfield, Wellesley Farms, Saxonville and East Chatham, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge received reduced fees, indicating reuse of earlier designs. The first station of this group, at East Brookfield on the main-line west of Worcester, was a simple rectangle with one round end, duplicating the design of the Brookline Hills (Brookline, MA) station. The Brookline Hills station was also the inspiration to two additional stations, besides the East Brookfield Station, featuring the architecturally significant rounded roof on one end.

The East Brookfield commuter station design featured a rectangular plan with a single round end. The hipped roof of slate, with broad overhanging eaves, was supported by wood brackets. The body of the station was executed in granite with Kibbe brownstone trim from the Norcross Kibbe Quarry in East Longmeadow, MA. A single eyelid dormer broke the roof surface on the trackside directly above the projecting round bay window at the ticket office. A single chimney was located at the end of the roof ridge toward the rectangular end of the station.

East Brookfield Depot - East Elevation

East Brookfield Depot - East Elevation

 

East Brookfield Depot - Track Side

Similar Stations to East Brookfield

Only four of the 32 stations built between 1881-1894 for the Boston & Albany Railroad shared the unique single rounded-end.  In addition to East Brookfield, the other stations are outlined below:

B&A RR Station, Brookline Hills (Brookline), Mass. (originally Cypress Street)
Contractor: Norcross Brothers
Construction: December 1891-March 1892
Cost: $9143
Demolished

The commuter station at Cypress Street in Brookline, later named Brookline Hills, served as the model for three other B&A stations. The design featured a rectangular plan with a single round end. The hipped roof of slate, with broad overhanging eaves , was supported by wood brackets. The body of the station was executed in granite with brownstone trim. A single eyelid dormer broke the roof surface on the trackside directly above the projecting round bay window at the ticket office. A single chimney was located at the end of the roof ridge toward the rectangular end of the station.

B&A RR Station, Hinsdale, Mass.
Contractor: Norcross Brothers
Construction: December 1891-March 1892
Cost: $9054
Demolished

Hinsdale and Canaan were the first of the Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge stations for which the firm received reduced fees, indicating reuse of earlier designs. The small station at Hinsdale, on the mainline east of Pittsfield, was similar to that at Brookline Hills-a rectangle in plan with a single round end.

B&A RR Station, Canaan, N.Y.
Contractor: Norcross Brothers
Construction: December 1891-March 1892
Cost: $8909
Demolished

The small station at Canaan, on the mainline in New York, was probably built to serve the seasonal traffic to the hot springs at New Lebanon. The design also appears to have duplicated that of Brookline Hills.

 

Citation:
Architecture for the Boston & Albany Railroad: 1881-1894
Jeffrey Karl Ochsner
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
Vol. 47, No. 2 (Jun., 1988), pp. 109-131
(article consists of 23 pages)
Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the Society of Architectural Historians
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/990324

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2010 4:31 pm

    Norcross Brothers of Worcester, MA built these stations using Kibbe Brownstone from their quarries at East Longmeadow, a stone that was popularised by Richardson and Norcross.

  2. November 28, 2010 2:35 pm

    Another fine example of Richardson architecture is the former Old Colony RR station in
    (North) Easton, MA. Restored and used by the Easton Historical Society.

  3. December 3, 2010 2:51 pm

    Greenville Junction Depot on Moosehead Lake,Maine

    Greenville Junction Friends are 1 year into the process of saving our historical depot.
    Originally a Canadian Pacific Depot built in 1889, it has one rounded end of the building. We have been unable to locate another like it.
    Spread the word of another historic depot in disrepair in need of assistance.

    Go to our website: http://www.greenvilledepot.org
    face book : Save The Depot Greenville ME
    email : savethedepot@aol.com

  4. July 7, 2011 10:33 pm

    i would be willing to donate my time to construct the new station in east brookfield, i drive by every day and think what a shame it would be to loose it.

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