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Wakefield's renovated Union Station dedicated

Station to serve as a museum preserving Wakefield's rail history

UNION STATION was officially opened last Saturday, June 25, with an old-fashioned ribbon cutting by Beth MacRury. Assisting her were (l-r): Teresa Williams, Nancy Hall, Phil Twombley, Kelly Shea, Snooky Shea, MacRury, Peter Brown, Pam Judge, Mark Duffy, and Craig Farley. (Thomas Beeler photo) (click for larger version)
June 30, 2011
WAKEFIELD — Last Saturday, June 25, the Wakefield Heritage Commission celebrated the completion of its renovation of the railroad station in Union with a dedication ceremony, music, a cookout and two lectures on Wakefield's railroad history.

The celebration began just before 10:30 a.m. with a welcome by Heritage Commission Chair Pam Judge, followed by an invocation by Rev. John Babson, pastor of the Union Congregational Church, and a pledge of allegiance led by David Tibbetts.

Judge then gave a brief history of the Wakefield Heritage Commission, which started in 1993 with the restoration of the Garvin Building, located next to the railroad tracks and across from the Town Hall in Sanbornville. That project took 12 years. The restored Garvin Building was sold in 2006 to purchase the Union Railroad Station and freight yard property. Since then many volunteers have worked on the depot building, freight house and yard, with many more people donating money as well as time: the program listed 72 individuals and local businesses.

The interior restoration work on the Railroad Station building was done largely by Phil Twombley and Bill Judge based on Boston & Maine Railroad plans. The Stationmaster's Office in the building was formally dedicated to the two men and a plaque recognizing their achievement was mounted on the office door.

Judge asked for a moment of silence to honor Kent Lewis, a Heritage Commission member who passed away last winter.

N.H. Representative Joe Fleck and Selectman Mark Duffy made brief speeches. Fleck cited the Union Station project as a vital link to Wakefield's past, not just a tourist attraction, and said he hoped that the town's children will appreciate all of the work of generations past.

Duffy praised the Heritage Commission as "a community coming together to get things done." He also honored beloved Union resident Janet Shea for "bringing Union forward."

Wakefield Town Administrator Teresa Williams read two letters: one from the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance congratulating the town on the dedication of Union Station; and another from Executive Councilor Ray Burton wishing the participants "good weather and a good turnout" for the dedication and citing the 100 years that the station has served Union residents. Judge pointed out that while the present restored station was built in 1911, the first station on the site was erected in 1854.

The formal ribbon cutting followed, and participants were allowed in to tour the restored waiting room and office, which featured displays of Wakefield railroad history and railroad memorabilia.

The New England Country Boys provided railroad-themed songs for the event. The Roaming Railroad provided tours around Union, and Marissa Williams provided face painting for the kids. The Pine Tree Chapter of the Model 'A" Ford Club and the Cotton Valley Rail Trail Club also exhibited vehicles. The restored snowplow car was also available for inspection.

At 11 a.m. at the Greater Wakefield Resource Center next door Bruce Davidson and Dane Malcolm gave a slide presentation on the Wolfeboro Railroad, which extended from Sanbornville into Wolfeboro, and the Eastern Division, which employed Davidson for a time. At 1 p.m., after the cookout, Dave Schweitzer and Bob Hanson gave a talk on the "Rise and Fall of the Sanbornville Railroad Program," also at the Center.

Varney Smith
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