By Steve Casey, Railroad Museum of New England
The Railroad Museum of New England on Monday acquired a pre-1900 Pawtucket, Rhode Island yard office building by donation from the Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum, of Fall River, MA. The RMNE is based at the historic Thomaston Train Station built by the original Naugatuck Railroad in 1881, and the Fall River structure was moved to the Thomaston grounds on a temporary basis on Monday.
The Fall River museum announced its closing last year, and was disposing of its collection of railroad rolling stock and structures. According to RMNE member Jon Chase, OC&FRRM president Jay Chatterton contacted RMNE officials about the future of the small (approximately 10’x12″) building that was once an office in the Pawtucket, RI freight yard, prior to being moved to the Fall River museum location.
The building is thought to date from the 1880s. Its curved “pagoda” roof is characteristic of small railroad buildings once common along the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad in northern Rhode Island.
Chase said that investigation by RMNE board member Bob Eberheim revealed that moving the building to Thomaston was feasible and could be accomplished without need to dismantle the structure as first feared. The building is in generally good condition and in the short term will require only minor trim repair and a coat of paint, according to Chase.
“We needed to save the Pawtucket building on what amounted to an emergency basis. Site contractors and state project representatives in Massachusetts were growing frustrated and had begun to broach the subject of its demolition,” Chase said.
Eberheim arranged for the building’s transportation by truck from Fall River to Thomaston on Monday, July 17th.
“Opportunities to rescue historic buildings like this are fading away,” according to RMNE secretary Bill Sample. During the RMNE’s early days, the museum was involved with the rescue of three historic small structures. In each case the buildings have become useful additions to the properties where they now reside, both aesthetically and functionally, Sample said. “So far we have no such historic building on our property beyond our crown jewel, the Thomaston Passenger Station,” he added.