POST # 30: MERROW TRAIN DEPOT AND GENERAL STORE:
Rail service in Mansfield began in 1849, when the New London, Willimantic and Palmer Railroad completed its line along the Willimantic River as far as Stafford Springs. A train depot was built in Merrow in 1850. This enabled the stockinet (knitting) mill to easily transport its products to the docks in New London and from there to New York City for nationwide marketing. This was instrumental to the company’s success.
The new train depot included a general store, named J. B. Merrow & Sons. The Merrow family also owned and operated the nearby stockinet mill. In 1853 a post office opened in the store and Joseph B. Merrow was appointed as its first postmaster. The building was soon expanded and a pharmacy was added to its services. The store and depot became a busy community center for the village and surrounding farms with customers, passengers, and freight coming and going daily.
In 1899, Edwin Reynolds purchased the store from the estate of Joseph B. Merrow and then sold it to Calvin G. Wilcox, Jr. in 1904. Shortly afterwards Frank and Jennie Millard purchased it. Three months after the sale, lightning struck a kerosene tank next to the store and the building burned down. Undeterred, the Millards rebuilt and continued the business.
In April of 1908 John Wrana purchased the property and more misfortune followed. Six months later, an arsonist set fire to the store and the nearby granary owned by the Wilcoxes. Both buildings were destroyed. This time the store was not rebuilt.
Joseph M. Merrow purchased the empty lot and then sold it to the Vermont Central Railroad in 1912. A small train depot was built next to the tracks. It served the Merrow community from 1913 to 1940 when rail service to Merrow ceased. The train depot was then demolished. There is now a parking lot on its former site, located across the road from the Mansfield Academy of Dance.