Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An Ephiphany

Do you know what this building once was?
A few days ago I received a comment about the round building on the former Hebert Candy property.  The gentleman writes a blog about old, abandoned "Americana" ( 

He asked if I knew anything about the building, and since I didn't, I am asking you.  If you know the history of the round building, drop me a note, and I'll share it here.

Now, the rest of the story.
Future Gateway To Sturbridge?

I drove to the round building this morning so I could take a few photos to post here.  As I was driving across the bridge over I-84, and approaching the former Hebert Candy Property I had an epiphany.  What if the town, or the Chamber of Commerce, purchased the buildings and land and turned it into a Gateway to our area?  

The property has been empty for several years now, although it was supposedly sold to a laboratory from Southbridge last winter the For Sale sign is still up.  It looks as though a gallery has set up shop in the far end of the main building.

The property has everything one could ask for.  The main field stone building could not only be the Chambers headquarters, but could also be a great information center, a gift store selling local items, and possibly a small restaurant as well. 
This building could very easily become the headquarters
for Trek Sturbridge offering maps, canoe, and
bike rentals.

The rustic building at the other end of the parking lot could be the headquarters for Trek Sturbridge, and offer trail maps, outdoor books, supplies, canoe, and bike rentals rentals.

The round building in the center of the the three buildings could be a small museum with displays telling the visitor about our areas history.


  • There is more than ample parking.  
  • The property is directly off the exit from I-84.  
  • The trail system will eventually come directly behind the buildings.  
  • The Quinebaug River is a short distance away for canoeing.  
  • Old Sturbridge Village is practically across the street as is hundreds of acres of land for hiking, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and biking.
  • The site is more accessible to a larger number of travelers than the current building on Route 20 which could continued to be used as it is.
  • Location, location, location.
  • Oh, and what route does the property border?  Route 15.  Another bonus.
Imagination.  Sometimes all it takes is a bit of imagination to spawn an idea, and then the good sense to pass it on to another with a talent for taking the idea a bit further. Those talented folks will  then refine the idea, and bring it to life.

I had the epiphany, and now I am passing it on to those with better connections, and  skills to explore the idea further.  

Now, split up into groups, and talk amongst yourselves, and get back to me.

Any takers?

October 3, 2012 9:40 PM ADDENDUM

Sturbridge, MA 01566

1 River Rd
List Price: $698,000
Type: Commercial
Type of Comm.: Commercial
Status: Active
Space Available: For Sale
Basement: Unknown
Driving Doors: 1
Restrooms: 4
Stories: 3
Buildings: 3
Total Units: 4
Parking Spaces: 50
Master Bath: Unknown
Acres: 2.02
Lot Size: 87,991
Total Sq. Ft.: 12,984
Year Built: 1961~
Approx. GLA: 12,984
Sub Dividable: N
MLS#: 71075286

Description: Prime 2+ acre Site at River Road and Rte 15 across from I-84 Exit 2. THE Corner location on the Rte 15 Corridor! Formerly Hebert Candies. This timeless stone and frame construction has great character with flexible space on 3 levels for many Commercial uses. The large up-dated septic has expansion potential. Town Water. Plus 620 sf frame office/retail and a 1230 sf round building ready for rehab or more parking. Sale subject to permits. List # 71075282 @ 2.36 A. Commercial land at 6 River Road.

Sq. Ft. Units

Residential: 3,652 1
Office: 620 1
Retail: 4,356 1
Warehouse: 4,356 1
Manufacturing: 0 0
Total: 12,984 4
Basement: Unknown
Elevator: No
Acres: 2.02
Depth: 250
Space Dividable: Yes
Easements: No
Expandable: Yes
Handicap Access: No
Lot Size: 87,991
Parking Features: 21+ Spaces, Paved Driveway, On Site
Parking Spaces: 50
Construction: Stone/Concrete, Frame
Railroad Siding: No
Roof Material: Asphalt/Composition Shingles
Site Condition: Dry, Level, Open, Improved
Sprinklers: No
Traffic Count: 0 Underground Tank: No
Location: Suburban, Free Standing, Interstate, Highway Access, Corner Lot
Utilities: Public Water, Private Sewer, Bottled Gas, 220 Volts
Beach: Unknown
21E On File: Yes
Assessed Building Value: $361,100
Assessed Land Value: $141,600
Mill Rate: $17.63
Taxes: $8,863
Tax Year: 2012
Book/Page: 45713/149
Plat Plan: Yes
Special Financing: No
Survey: Yes
Total Assesed Value: $502,700
one Description: Legal Non-Conforming
Lender Owned: No
Short Sale Lender Approval: No
Condo Assoc.: No
Exchange: Yes
Lien and Encumbent: No
Sublet: Unknown
Disclosure: The zoning is Special Use Commercial, check the Town's By-laws and Zoning Map at < town.sturbridge.m



  1. Start up the band!Wednesday, October 03, 2012

    Now that you've said so, the stone building sure does look like a Chamber of Commerce, and, or Information Center!

    Many years ago the round building housed what I seem to remember as a place that displayed and sold unusual objects. I think there were exotic, ethic masks and other interesting artsy things in there. If there were other businesses or a Chamber of Commerce in the stone building, I would guess that the round building might attract tourists and others with the same kind of items it had years ago.

    Good thinking, Wally!

    Now comes the part where we decide if we can or want to take a chance on investing on a new and attractive gateway into town.

    One could drive right down Haynes St. and come out at the Town Hall/Sturbridge Common area.

    It's still a shame that the Haynes St. intersection at 131 isn't wider...

    Who knows? I'm sure it would be a battle royal, but, by George, I think you've got something!

  2. Excellent idea . . . although an commercial establishment which would "invest" in the building and thereby increase it's taxable asset value to the town would be even better. Although this particular parcel sits just outside the Rt 15 "Special Usage District" and is not subject to the very narrow permitted uses for properties less than 25 acres, the first step for any real solution to Route 15 lies in enlarging the range of permitted options along this road. A school? A hospital? A walking trail? Commercial Recreation by special permit only? I would recommend looking at the newly minted town master plan and redo the zoning within the special usage district to meet the our town residents' desired usage for this property. Otherwise Route 15 will continue to languish.

  3. Thank you for your encouraging words. Taking a chance, or a risk, is something we all choke on, but when we believe that the end result will far outweigh the risk, and we make the move we put the odds in our favor. If we sit and remain stagnant the odds are against us that anything will occur. Remaining still is something we do very well. "Risk / benefit analysis " is all well and good, but until that became a topic in business school faith was the mover and shaker or our world. It's time for a little more faith.

  4. Another piece of property fro Sturbridge to own and really put the nail in the "sewer coffin" for rte 15.

  5. Start up the band!Wednesday, October 03, 2012

    Anonymous, why do you say it would put the "nail in the sewer" coffin for Route 15?

    If it became as a properly signed and major entrance into town, it could attract growth from outlets to antique shops, from schools to mini golf, from medical offices, to industry, to...
    There are so many possibilities for businesses that would not only attract tourists, but could provide much needed services to our own people.

    Is there a group out there that is trying to save Route 15 for it's own future purposes? Why all the fuss every time someone suggests that we should do something to open up that area to something that would bring in tax money? Huh?

  6. I agree ! Why the negative comments for anything that or anyone suggesting an idea to develop Sturbridge in any way ?..

  7. If folks are woried that the Town purchasing the property would end up causing a sewer betterment to be paid that is putting the cart before the horse. So many different scenarios are there if one thinks about it. The Chamber could buy it, a private business group could be set up to promote tourism even more, and they could buy it, and then lease it to the Town, or The Chamber of Commerece, and other parties. Buying the property would be the first step in bringing in more dollars for the town, and area businesess. It would be an incredible asset for the entire region, and no longer give that "ghost town" appearance that to the area.

  8. What is wrong with rte. 15 as it is now ? Why does every inch of property need to be developed? If the owners of the property want to develop it they would.

  9. The owners don't want to develop it, they want to sell it. It's already developed, just needs to be repurposed with a new owner that has vision. If we don't develop dome of what is in town, our taxes will bury us. Deer and trees don't pay taxes, developed land does.

  10. Our Road to Nowhere???Thursday, October 04, 2012

    Anonymous wrote:"What is wrong with rte. 15 as it is now ?"

    For one thing, Route 84 cut it off. It seemed to become, pretty much, a road to nowhere. Yet, it still has a connection to everywhere, and, for some unknown reason, some folks refuse to promote and acknowledge it.

  11. A couple of years ago the Hebert building was suggested as a new Senior Center. It would be perfect, parking, a kitchen area to prepare lunches, activity rooms and offices upstairs - needs an elevator - a large room on the main floor. Just need money!

    My idea has been a combination good deli, good bakery, ice cream, groceries, etc. for the campgrounds and Kelly Park, Leadmine, Holland, Union, tourist info for travelers. Or, the same could be done for the sister building at Pilot, which as far as I know is still scheduled for the wrecking ball. What a shame those two beautiful buildings are going to waste. How wonderful it would be if this conversation brought about positive results.

  12. Great ideas, Wally and Barbara!

    There might just be something to having more than one gateway area. Route 15 could become an attractive entrance into town, with the new "Gateway Deli, Shops, Art Galleries, and Tourists Information Center."

    Opening up the area might begin to bring in professional offices, and other businesses.

    Any takers?

  13. Wally: Someone has already had "An Epiphany" like this and already considered by business folks who have shops currently here in town.

    Only the Basement of the stone building would work for a bike shop/canoe/kayak rental (display space needed)

    The 2nd floor is not compliant with today's access/fire codes for commercial use. (was last used as an apartment and never update in the 50+ years of the building)

    And asking price is way too high.

    Tom C

  14. Tom, the basement would be fine for a canoe/bike/kayak rental place; there is large rollup door on the east end of the building, and the basement is well lit as well. The second floor could be brought up to code easily. The asking price is far less expensive than building similar buildings with parking from scratch. The location could not be matched anywhere. Three buildings. Lots of room to lease. This opportunity won't last long. The other epiphany you mentioned that has been considered by business owners in town, was that for the same location, or for the corner of Holland and Route 20? I've heard of a "Gateway" being considered for years. At one time, a joint venture with the State of Connecticut was in the works to build a Welcome Center on I-84, and that was only about 10 years ago. There's always talk, seldom action.

  15. Goes to show how OUT OF TOUCH Tom Creamer is with business

  16. Dear Anonymous,
    There's more than one Tom C. in town. The tree warden is also a Tom C., and there must be a few others. Tom C.'s note above was not all that well written. 'Makes me wonder.

  17. The Tom C. above is from Tom Chamberland, the tree warden. Tom always signs his emails to me as "Tom C." No need to wonder. When Tom Creamer writes he never uses an initial, always his complete name.

  18. Wally:

    1) Thanks for posting a link to my blog.
    2) Thanks to the gentleman (or lady) who gave me a bit of insight into that interesting round building.
    3) Good luck with these great ideas for that complex!


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