POST # 37 – EAGLEVILLE TRAIN DEPOT, STORE AND POST OFFICE
This train depot and store were probably built shortly after the New London and Northern Railroad was put through Mansfield in 1847. It would become the most important of the three train depots in Mansfield. It was a boon to the nearby cotton mill and later became one of the main gateways for students and supplies arriving for the Storrs campus. The local post office was also housed in the store. The building, now gone, was located near the tracks west of 12 Old Mill Court.
During the Civil War years, Eliphaz Hibbard managed the Eagleville store and was also the postmaster and stationmaster. His daughters, Almira and Anna, helped tend the store. In a manuscript written by Almira Hibbard Parker, she related how the store was a gathering place where villagers came to shop and pick up letters and news of the war. She also noted that sometimes political discussions became too heated and she would then hide under the counter!
There was great excitement at the depot on June 11, 1869, when a special train arrived from Hartford carrying the governor and members of the General Assembly to attend the dedication of a monument to Edwin Whitney. The founder and superintendent of the Connecticut Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home had died during an epidemic in August of 1867. A parade of carriages bore the dignitaries from Eagleville to the Orphan Home and from there they processed on foot to the Storrs Cemetery for the dedication. Hundreds showed up for the event. In the coming years, innumerable students, faculty members and visitors would make that same trip from the Eagleville depot to campus.
About 1873, Simeon O. Vinton took ownership of the store from Eliphaz Hibbard and likewise served as the postmaster and stationmaster. His son, Fred O. Vinton, later joined him in the business. Fred took over management of the store in 1890 and was also appointed postmaster. Four years later, his wife, Annie L. Vinton, took over as postmistress and served in that position for the next 20 years. (She is, of course, the namesake of the Annie L. Vinton Elementary School, based on her service on the Mansfield Board of Education and as a State Representative). The Vintons operated the store successfully until 1917 when it was sold to the Eagleville Company.
Joseph Douda was the last postmaster at the Eagleville post office which closed on May 5, 1941. Thereafter the University’s mail was delivered to the Beach Building on campus until 1947. That’s when the Storrs post office moved to its first location on Route 195.
Sometime in the 1940s, the Central Vermont Railroad replaced the old train depot and store with a new train station. The new smaller station operated until 1959 when train service to Eagleville ended. It too is now gone.
The Eagleville train depot and store, c. 1910.
This photograph was taken in April 1918. It shows wagonloads of coal being brought from the train depot in Eagleville to the college heating plant. It clearly demonstrates the need for paving on North Eagleville Road!
This photograph shows the later Eagleville depot, built by the Central Vermont Railroad in the 1940s. On the left, is the former Eagleville cotton mill that, by this time, was occupied by the Sterling Shoe Fiber Company.