The Center village of West Brookfield occupies a broad plain with Wickaboag Pond on the west, the Quaboag River on the south, and Coys Brook on the east. Foster Hill, the location of the town’s first settlement, rises to the southeast. Route 9, including remnants of the old colonial Bay Road, skirts the southern edge of the pond, passing east-west as South Main Street through the center village. A town common is located at the fork of Route 9 and North Brookfield Road, the latter also known locally as North Main Street.
West Brookfield Center Historic District comprises approximately 85 acres, encompassing resources primarily north, south, and west of the common, the district’s major open space. The intersection of Pleasant and Central Streets with Main Street is the focus of commercial and institutional activity. Town Hall and public library are located at the commercial core, and the district’s three churches are ranged along Main Street.
This 85 acre area includes 211 historic buildings, 1 site, 1 structure and 5 objects. The 211 buildings include a total of 204 houses, barns, outbuildings and stores, 1 Town Hall, 1 Library, 1 Tavern, 1 former seminary and 3 churches.[soliloquy id="1519"]Industry, though no longer active in the district, is represented by a single factory at the southern end of Pleasant Street. A number of barns, small workshops, and outbuildings survive, normally at the rear of lots and usually visible from the street. Generally, buildings are oriented toward the street. Building setback ranges from shallow in the commercial area and one side streets to the deep setbacks and ample side yards for houses on larger lots across from the common and on West Main Street. Building placement reflects patterns of development: regular on Cottage and High Streets, both largely developed is single periods, and more haphazard on other streets, illustrating the subdivision of larger properties and continual process of in-fill construction.The West Brookfield Center District is listed with the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
The West Brookfield Center Historic District boundary increase area is situated south of and contiguous to the existing West Brookfield Center Historic District. This section of the town center was built up in response to the opening of the Western Railroad in 1839, and to the subsequent growth of the town and its industries during the second half of the 19th century. In history and general character it is closely related to the southernmost section of the existing historic district.
Included in the expansion district are all or portions of several streets: Central Street, Mechanic Street, Sherman Street, Milk Street, Front Street, Ware Street, Long Hill Road, Old Long Hill Road, Railroad Avenue, and Freight House Road. Like the existing historic district, the expansion area is located on a plain that is bounded on the northwest by Lake Wickaboag, on the east by Coy's Brook, and on the south by the Quaboag River. The river runs east-west immediately south of the southern boundary of the expanded district. The highest point in the expansion area is the railroad overpass bridge, which arches up to carry Long Hill Road over railroad tracks in the southern section of the area.An important focal point of the expansion district is a group of railroad buildings, and structures including two former passenger depots (1847 and 1884), a former freight house (1847), a single set of railroad tracks, and a railroad overpass bridge.
Associated with the railroad is a small commercial/industrial area clustered on both sides of the tracks. Despite this concentration of distinctly non-residential structures, dwellings make up the largest number of buildings in the district.Railroad AccidentWhile only two houses stand south of the railroad in what is almost exclusively a commercial/industrial area, most of the larger section of the area north of the tracks is residential.The district has a strongly residential character, defined by tree-lined streets of mostly modest mid-late-19th century middle- and working-class houses set on small shady lawns. By contrast, in the commercial/industrial area closest to the railroad tracks the look is utilitarian with few trees and lawns and with little attention paid to beautification. The most stylish buildings in this group near the railroad are the two former railroad passenger stations. Others are very plain. Many of the most significant buildings and structures in the area have direct associations with the railroad. The earliest are the 1847 passenger depot and freight house. The Historic District Extension was listed with the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.