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19th Century pavilion for trolley passengers designated as historic place

Paul Tuthill
This pavilion in Forest Park in Springfield, Massachusetts was built in 1890 as a waiting area for people taking the trolley that ran on Sumner Ave. The city is planning to restore it using $240,000 from the Community Preservation Act program.

The structure, located at the main entrance to Springfield's Forest Park, is being restored.

One of the oldest structures in the largest park in Springfield, Massachusetts has been designated as a historic place.

The Springfield City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance creating the Forest Park Trolley Waiting Pavilion Local Historic District.

Located at the main entrance to Forest Park on Sumner Avenue, the all-wooden pavilion was constructed in the late 1800s when a streetcar line was extended from downtown Springfield. The trolley stopped running in the 1930s.

A project is now underway to restore and preserve the Romanesque-style pavilion, said Pat Sullivan, Springfield’s parks director.

“We are very proud of saving this structure at the main entrance to Forest Park,” Sullivan said.

Once the restoration work is finished, the pavilion will be available for activities such as youth chess tournaments, garden club flower shows, and Sullivan said it might be available to rent for private social functions as the city does with the Barney Carriage House in the park.

The restoration project is being paid for by $240,000 from the Community Preservation Act program.

Bob McCarroll, chairman of the Community Preservation Committee said the funds are contingent on the pavilion being designated as a historic place.

“It is a wonderful example of trolley-related, transportation-related structures from the late 19th Century,” McCarroll said.

Sullivan said without the CPA program, which is funded by a surtax on residential property tax bills, the restoration of the trolley pavilion would not happen.

“I thank the citizens of Springfield for passing the CPA ordinance,” Sullivan said. “We’re getting a lot of interest from all neighborhoods for projects and if it were not for this (CPA) ordinance this project would probably would not have moved forward because there are so many greater needs in the city.”

The historic designation for the trolley pavilion was endorsed by the City Council General Government Committee and the Forest Park Civic Association said the group’s president and City Councilor Victor Davila.

“It is a good project to save historic landmarks in our city particularly in the jewel of the city – Forest Park,” Davila said.

Springfield has nearly two dozen local historic districts. Several consist of just a single building.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.