Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Historical UMass trolley station demolished

By Mary Reines

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After years of protecting and sheltering local residents and students from inclement weather, the 101-year-old trolley station that sat outside of the Hasbrouck Laboratory is gone.

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

The structure – which in recent years had served as a bus shelter – was demolished by the Barr and Barr construction company on May 29 without the permission of the University of Massachusetts, a University official said.

“They did something they shouldn’t have done,” UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said.  “We were very upset that this happened.”

The station sat on top of an area where infrastructure lines needed to be laid for a new academic classroom building currently under construction. Barr and Barr is one of the contractors constructing the building.

But the construction company had been ordered to delay tearing down the station in several meetings with the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management, which was in the process of attaining a final sign-off to demolish the structure.

“This had to happen on a specific timetable,” said Blaguszewski.

Following the teardown, Michael Lambert, the director of construction services for DCAM, sent a letter to Stephen Killian, the executive vice president of Barr and Barr, chastising the company for the unauthorized demolition.

“Barr and Barr was consistently informed by DCAM that the Waiting Station Shelter must remain in place until an executed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) authorizing its removal is achieved in compliance with applicable state and federal regulations,” Lambert wrote in the letter, which was obtained and posted by the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

“Nonetheless, for reasons that appear inexplicable, your company’s representatives acted on their own accord without authorization,” he added.

Lambert also wrote in the letter to Killian – who could not be contacted by the Collegian – that Barr and Barr would be held responsible for all consequences associated with the incident, and could face fines or penalties.

The company did remove its site supervisor after the incident, but it hasn’t faced any additional consequences, according to Blaguszewski.

There had been conflict over the removal of the trolley station for months before the building was demolished. A group called Preserve UMass, as well as the Amherst Historical Commission, had both taken an interest in the structure, which was built in 1911 for Amherst’s first trolley system, which ran through Sunderland and later to Northampton.

In a letter published in the Gazette in February, Jonathan Larson, an emeritus professor at the UMass, wrote: “ Unlike many historic structures that have been adapted to modern uses, the Waiting Station continues its original use to provide shelter, not for streetcar patrons, but for thousands of students, faculty, staff and others who use the public bus system that covers most of the towns once served by the Amherst and Sunderland Street Railway.”

Documents and photos pertaining to the history of the station were collected before the demolition at the request of the Amherst Historical Commission.

And while an independent building moving company hired by Preserve UMass estimated the cost of removing the building during construction and replacing it afterwards to be $75,000, UMass campus planners estimated it to be closer to $200,000.

“The building would have cost a lot to reconstruct,” said Blaguszewski.  “It was time to use the site for modern use for today’s students.”

Mary Reines can be reached at [email protected]

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Historical UMass trolley station demolished”

  1. Steven W Lindsey on September 4th, 2012 9:24 am

    Have them reconstruct it. Out of salvaged materials if still possible.

    Clearly they violated the community’s trust. Corporations like Barr and Barr should be held accountable for their actions, just as we mere mortals, the beleaguered citizenry, are.

    Hon. Steven W Lindsey
    State rep
    Keene, NH

  2. ALUM on September 6th, 2012 3:55 pm

    So……….the builder took it down by “mistake” rather than charging $200k to dismantle and rebuild and now the Univ is “upset”. wink wink

    In the last paragraph, it sounds like Mr. Blaguszewski isn’t going to be crying in his beer.

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