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

Sunday, January 19, 2014

They Went An' Built A Skyscraper

"Everything's up to date in Kansas City They gone about as fer as they can go They went an' built a skyscraper seven stories high About as high as a buildin' orta grow."

--Richard Rogers / Oscar Hammerstein II

Believe me, I appreciate a good change now, and again.  Really, I do.

It was well past the time for the old Cumberland Farms on Main Street in Fiskdale to be torn down, and a new building built in its place. Not only for  aesthetic reasons, but safety reasons, too.  Too often cars pulling up to the gas pumps would wait in line blocking Hinman Street.

This practice did not allow residents free access to their homes, or the ability to leave their street at times.  When I was filling up I often saw a lot of frayed nerves, steely stares, and digital salutes offered both ways at the intersection of Hinman and Main.

Yes, it was high time to tear down the old building, build a new one, and reconfigure the gas pump island location.

So, Cumberland Farms Corporation went off to those at the town hall with a plan.  They wanted to build anew at the same location, and for all the right reasons.  The town supported the request to build, issued the proper permits after the plan was reviewed, and scrutinized as they do at town hall.  

Remember, white posts only in the front of the building.  

Construction began this past fall.

First the lot was prepared, the trees removed giving the condos behind Cumberland Farms a fantastic view of the gas station to be.  Next came the demolition of the building, and the removal of the old tanks.  Soon, the foundation was poured, and the building began to rise.

And rise.

The new Cumberland Farms on Main Street.  

One of the many things one learns in architect school is building to the scale of the surroundings.  Determine what the building will be used for, and build to suit the need, and the traffic that will come.    This is done in concert with those that hired the architect.  The client expresses their need, and the architect designs to suit that need.  However, the bigger the project, the more money for the architect.

Cumberland Farms must have expressed a wicked lot of needs, and the architect was willing to fulfill those needs.  Usually, gasoline, lottery tickets, cigarettes, coffee, newspapers, and milk top the list of items sought at Cumberland Farms.  Everything else are those all important sundry items, ice, charcoal, 8 ounce bottle of Dawn, eggs, and of course, Entenmann's.  

The next part of the process is that "take things to the town hall" part that is in place to make sure that the plans are up to snuff, don't violate any codes, regulations, or bylaws.  It will also allow those at the Planning Committee, and elsewhere, to get a good picture of the proposed building, and just how it will fit in the surrounding neighborhood.  Maybe it's me, but did some folks call in sick the day when neighborhood fit was discussed?

I make it a point not to listen to rumors, or report on them, but somethings I over hear things, and I heard that Macy's will be anchoring the south wing of the building right under the new Olive Garden.

The building is big.  Actually, enormous would be a better word, but if our town fathers, and mothers, thought it was good fit for Sturbridge, then that's good enough for me.  If I can fill up my car with gas, buy a pair of jeans, get the cat groomed, and sip a coffee while waiting to have an eye exam all under the same roof, well, then my life just got a whole lot easier.

I do like change.  


  1. A new Cumberland Farms will be nice, but, do you suppose a pharmacy could be included in there there along with the the Macy's and Olive Garden?

    What? No pharmacy? But we could use a pharmacy, with a drive through, in Fiskdale!

    Wally, are you sure there's not a pharmacy window somewhere in that new Cumberland Farms building? Oh, that's right, no pharmacies over 7500 square feet and no drive-thrus are allowed in this part of town.

    What's the function of huge space on what appears to be a second floor under a peaked roof?

    Well, at least we can rest assured that the glow of the Red Box will be sufficiently hidden from view, and those white posts will be fitted with white reflection tape - there will be picnic tables, so, if you want to, you can hang with your friends.

  2. Marilyn, the concert venue is on the second floor, just outside of the Olive Garden.

  3. Nice to see that the building's styling is such a nice fit your the image of "Ye Olde Sturbridge!" In thirty years in town, I have yet to see anything built that differs from the cookie cutter blobs that chain stores drop on everyone.That space on the second floor? It's part of the drive through marijuana dispensary!

  4. Concerts AND marijuana - bringing the Woodstock Festival to Sturbridge? Now that's historical and will bring in the tourists! CA-CHING!

  5. I'm beginning to understand the need for the sidewalks to be a full 8 feet wide, for all the plants, trees and flowers, and the need for all the trails. Everybody's going to Cumberland's to mellow out. Parking will not be an issue if everybody is too high to drive.

  6. Because its new, yes it looks large, but it is no larger of a footrpint or size that Whistling Swan(or taller) or the board walk, next door, or the building where Churchills restaurant is in, or.... or..... or....., Jeeze, let's get a life here folks...... or am I missing something?????

  7. I'm not sure if you are, or not, Tom. The Whistling Swan is in scale with its surroundings. I has height, but it does not overwhelm. The boardwalk is a one story buiding that "fits" probally because of its orientation on the lot. If was turned, and facing the street, it would fit, too, but not as well. Now, the Cumberland Farms is big. It towers over the SouthbridgeCredit Union, which is two stories, and the nursery school. It is much larger than the buildings across the street. Cumberland Farms would be a perfect fit, size wise, in that area if it was 1/3 less tall, and 1/3 less long. My original intent in writing was to bring up the fact that the town makes sure all the t's are crossed,and i's dotted, but more thought should be given to the relationship of a building to its surrounding. For selling milk, cigarettes, newspapers, lottery tickets, gas, and coffee the building is a bit overdone. I think it is has fe more square feet than Churchills, and the Boardwalk is made up of a large bank, a just as large restaurant, and a couple of other store fronts. The Swan is comprsed of two restaurants, and bars. Cumberlands is a gas station.


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