Katie Kinne

Canal Chamber unveils restored visitor center

Katie Kinne
Canal Chamber unveils restored visitor center

State legislators joined Bourne officials and Canal Region Chamber of Commerce administrators on Nov. 18 to unveil the transformation and makeover of the Visitor Center in the 1912 train station at Main Street’s west end.

Chamber President Marie Oliva said a $120,000 Community Preservation Act grant approved by Town Meeting voters made the work possible.

The visitor center, now brightly decorated for Christmas and the Cape Cod Railroad’s ‘Polar Express’ program, reflects yesteryear when trains routinely moved in and out of Buzzards Bay.

Oliva said CPA funds underwrote a complete paint job, refurbished train-ticket office, new lighting, restroom murals, and historical photos of Bourne’s past enlarged and mounted by Kathleen Hallam of Gray Gables, working on a project coordinated by Marion-base architect Anthi Frangiadis.

State Rep. David Vieira, R-Falmouth, said the project represents a milestone in Bourne efforts to protect and preserve “a cultural asset and investment.”

Vieira in pointed remarks noted that the chamber’s “stewardship” of the Buzzards Bay station next to Academy Drive means “we don’t have to conduct a major renovation like the one currently underway at the Falmouth Station.”

Bourne Community Preservation Act Review Committee Chairman Barry Johnson agreed with Vieira’s assessment of the building makeover and its importance to the town.

“This is one of the finest uses of CPA funds for restoration of historic resources in the community,” Johnson told the gathering. “You’ve done the community proud,” he told the chamber officials.

Hallam, meanwhile, also painted murals in the distinctive station’s restored restrooms. She said the project was “all about community." In terms of the enlarged photography, she said, the partial sepia-toned images represent “a pleasant look at the journey of the Cape through the eyes of those who lived here.”

Oliva, chairman of the Bourne Advisory Transportation Committee as well, said the Visitor Center makeover effort “really represents what the station was in a time when the trains were running and we want the trains to come back.”

That sentiment is not lost on Vieira, who remains Bourne’s advocate on Beacon Hill in terms of securing restoration of commuter service between Boston’s South Station and Buzzards Bay -- something the MBTA says would be costly and in need of substantial subsidies.

The Cape Cod Commission suggests that daily trains in and out of Buzzards Bay would prompt “transit-oriented development” that would include demographic changes at Main Street’s west end and rising property values,

Those attending the dedication along with Vieira and others included state Sen. Vinny deMacedo, R-Plymouth; Bourne Selectmen Donald Pickard and Steve Mealy; Bourne Historical Commission members; and Donald Ellis, a former selectman. 

Buzzards Bay Station with its southwest Spanish-style architecture and red-slate roof dates to 1912. It was known as the Cohasset rail stop during Grover Cleveland’s presidency in the late 19th century when the train tracks followed the north bank of the Monument River to what was then industrial Bournedale.

The daily trains left in the early 1960s and the rail switching yard next to the station and the canal three decades later was converted to the Buzzards Bay Park, which is under reconstruction by Marini Construction Co. of Newton.