The Fitchburg Railroad was incorporated on March 3, 1842, opening between Boston and Fitchburg on March 5, 1845 and going right through the middle of Shirley Village.
At that time, Main Street kept its name but was only on the north side of the tracks and the south side of the tracks became Front Street.
Here is what a steam engine looked like in the 19th century.
This photo shows folks getting ready to watch the 4th of July parade in Depot Square.
The main depot building was approximately where the gas station had been.
Can you zoom in and see the name Shirley on the edge of the roof? When the depot was demolished, Ray Farrar saved the sign.
Here is the band getting ready for the parade at the Main Street crossing. This is where you now cross over to get to the Phoenix Bar and Grille.
The small building is where the gatekeeper would stay until he needed to lower the gates. There was another gatekeeper’s shack at the Center Road crossing.
This picture shows the end of the building on Mill Street. It is now a lawyer’s office, but had been a hardware store, and beauty parlor, and a yarn shop and in this early 20th century photo it was the Post Office. For awhile, upstairs was also where the telephone office was and the operators would make the connections for you.
Notice the tracks in the road where the trolley cars could take you from North Leominster to Ayer.
This picture shows the band stand that was about where the flag is now. The fire hydrant is still there. The town would pay bands to perform here during the summer months.
The next picture is from 1907 and looks at the square from the other direction, before there was a bandstand, but when there were trolley tracks.
The first house on the left was where the telephone company parking lot is now.
The next photo shows the first gas station company at this location. Notice houses across the street that are still there. Also, see the other businesses on this side of the tracks.
When they built the new MBTA commuter rail stop in Shirley, they tried to make it resemble the former depot. Shirley resident Robert Adam and his students at North Bennett Street School came out from Boston to build the structure.
The railroad brought growth to Shirley Village and now brings commuters.
Volunteers have been beautifying the green areas and we hope that a new gas station will be built to add convenience and attractiveness to the area.