The William J. Hernberg House

Lost Mansfield > The William J. Hernberg House


This house was built in 1871 and was originally owned by the Grant family. It was located on Middle Turnpike (Route 44) in Mansfield Depot, directly opposite the current Thompson’s Store.

William J. Hernberg house 1982
This photograph shows the William J. Hernberg house shortly before the fire department burned it in June of 1982. The fire exercise had to be carefully coordinated with the train schedule. The firemen also took care to preserve the large pine tree in front of the house. The tree survived and is still thriving today.

In 1909 Martin M. Hansen had acquired the store and he operated it until October 30, 1934 when G. Merritt Thompson and William J. Hernberg formed a partnership and bought him out. Two years later, Hernberg sold his share in the store to Thompson and, with plans to start his own business, he purchased the property across the street. He soon made arrangements to relocate the house further back on the lot. The house was moved by George Rood of Windham and then the Hernberg family moved into their new home.

A new brick building was constructed on the former site of the house and there William Hernberg established the Hernberg Oil Company. It was an oil service business that later branched out into the sale of GE appliances. For a while in the 1940s, the Hernbergs also ran a luncheonette there.

The Mansfield Depot Post Office also moved from the Thompson store to the new brick building in 1936. The post office had been located in the store since Martin Hansen had taken ownership in 1909. William Hernberg succeeded Martin Hansen as postmaster in December of 1932 and served in that position for many years.

Model train layout of Mansfield Depot
Detail of a train layout made by Jan McCollum that depicts Mansfield Depot in the 1950s. This photograph shows the train depot and the adjacent brick building that housed the Hernberg Oil Company and the Mansfield Depot Post Office.

In 1972 the Hernbergs sold the property to Dahl Oil Co. which continued the oil service business until 1996. After the Hernbergs moved, the house was thereafter used a rental property. The deteriorating house was burned by the fire department in June 1982 as a training exercise.

In 1997, the U.S. Postal Service discontinued the post office in Mansfield Depot. Its closure was a great loss to this close-knit community. The brick building is currently vacant.

Hernberg house location today
The vacant building today. Note the large pine tree in the background. That’s the tree that the firemen worked to preserve during the burning of the house
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