The Grossdale Station is the oldest intact station on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) commuter line. It was built in 1889 for $5,000 by real estate developer Samuel Eberly Gross. Besides developing Grossdale, he was responsible for a number of other real estate developments, primarily in Chicago.
Samuel Gross gave people free train rides to his new subdivision and met the arriving groups with a band. He then plied them with hot dogs and lemonade while he made his pitch. He is believed to have spoken to the crowds from the station's front balcony. He sold considerable land during the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, the year Grossdale was incorporated. Gross also developed East Grossdale and West Grossdale, constructing train stations in each. These buildings were gone by 1979, and the areas are now known as Brookfield's Hollywood and Congress Park sections, respectively.
In 1905, the village changed its name from Grossdale to Brookfield. However, the name Grossdale remained on the stations, which were all owned by Gross. The stations were bought by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad for $25,000, and the name change took place in 1907.
In 1941, the Brookfield station was extensively remodeled. Separate women's and men's waiting rooms were combined, and the ticket office was moved. The stairs to the second floor station master's apartment were moved to the outside. The canopy was cut back and the stone post bases removed. Also taken down was the gingerbread trim beneath the canopy, and the ornamental fretwork above the gables. Most of the original charm was removed.
From July 31 to August 6, 1968, the station was once again called the Grossdale Station in commemoration of the village's 75th anniversary.
By 1977, the Burlington wished to demolish and replace the station. Through the efforts of the Brookfield Historical Society, the brick building was purchased in 1981 and moved across the railroad tracks to its current location.
The station was saved from the wrecking ball, but this was just the beginning. Innumerable hours were expended by volunteers and contractors, some of whom only charged for materials. A museum was established, and the station master's apartment was re-decorated with period furniture and accessories. The second floor side windows were restored and new eyebrow windows installed. The balcony, where Gross delivered his speeches, was restored. The canopy was extended, and decorative gingerbread attached. Probably the largest project was replacement of slate roof tiles. This project was funded through a grant.
Today, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The exterior appearance is similar to that of 1889. Major exceptions are the missing stone bases around the porch pillars, and the lack of decorative fretwork on the roof.
Photo captured May 29, 2016.
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