Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Trolley Museum Gets $10K to Restore Freight House

(SOURCE:  The Recorder) 

Recorder Staff
Thursday, January 29, 2015
(Published in print: Friday, January 30, 2015) 
SHELBURNE FALLS — Ever since the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum bought the historic Shelburne Falls Freight House in 2004, the old building has been a work-in-progress. But now, thanks to a $10,000 grant, volunteers will be able to finish restoration of the building’s exterior, says Trolley Museum President Sam Bartlett.

Volunteers have already restored and painted two sides of the Freight House, but the H. Albert Webb Award will pay for materials and labor to complete the building’s exterior siding, trim, slate roof and windows. Also, a modern overhead garage door will be replaced with a more historically accurate wooden sliding door.

The museum’s long-range goal is also to restore part of the interior and eventually to move its Visitor Center into the Freight House. 

“We’re delighted to have been selected as this year’s award recipient, said Bartlett. “Improving the outward appearance of this rare building will help to preserve the building, make our (rail) yard more attractive to visitors, and make it look more like it did 100 years ago.”

The Freight House was built around 1867, when the Troy and Greenfield Railroad arrived in Shelburne Falls. Control of the railroad yard passed to the Fitchburg Railroad, then the Boston & Maine Railroad and finally to the Guilford rail system, now known as Pan Am Railways. When owned by the railroads, the Freight House was used for handling less-than-carload (LCL) freight for neighboring towns. 

It also handled freight transfers to the Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway. In 1910, while a new depot was being built, the Freight House temporarily served as a passenger depot for Shelburne Falls riders.

The building was bought in 1963 by Blassberg Trucking, which had taken over the freight business of the Shelburne Falls and Colain Street Railway. Blassberg used it as a warehouse and as a shipping facility for the mills in Colrain.

The award was given to the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum by Leigh A. Webb and Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts President David Brown at the Amherst Railway Society Hobby Show this month.

The Trolley Museum bought the rail yard and all its buildings 11 years ago. Today, the yard is used for the museum’s demonstration trolley car rides, and the Visitors Center is housed in an adjacent former grain store. Also a new two-bay car barn is under construction, paid for by donations. When finished, it will house the current Trolley Car No. 10, which once ferried freight and passengers over what is now the Bridge of Flowers, and a new acquisition — an unrestored trolley car to be housed and restored at the Trolley Museum as soon as it can be moved into the barn.

The museum is now closed for the winter, but it reopens in late May.

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