McGovern, Gobi visit development sites in Greenfield, Wendell

John Williams, general manager of Green Fields Market, left, details the Franklin Community Co-op’s plans to move into the former Wilson’s Department store’s space by 2026 as U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, far right, looks on.

John Williams, general manager of Green Fields Market, left, details the Franklin Community Co-op’s plans to move into the former Wilson’s Department store’s space by 2026 as U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, far right, looks on. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Wendell Historical Society President Ed Hines speaks at the former depot store and post office at 466 Wendell Depot Road in Wendell on Friday during a visit by U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern and Director of Rural Affairs Anne Gobi.

Wendell Historical Society President Ed Hines speaks at the former depot store and post office at 466 Wendell Depot Road in Wendell on Friday during a visit by U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern and Director of Rural Affairs Anne Gobi. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-29-2024 5:00 PM

Though they lay dormant now, the former Wilson’s Department Store in downtown Greenfield and the former depot store and post office in Wendell were once bustling hubs of thriving communities.

On Friday, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern and Director of Rural Affairs Anne Gobi stopped by both locations to speak with the people working to breathe new life into these historic spots.

McGovern visited Wilson’s and Wendell as part of a tour that included the inauguration of the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s new chancellor, Javier Reyes, while Gobi went to each place after finishing a whirlwind tour of some Franklin County destinations that followed the “WEconomic Development Chamber Breakfast” at Greenfield Community College with Kate Fox, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Tourism and Travel.

John Williams, general manager of Green Fields Market, detailed the Franklin Community Co-op’s plans to move into the former department store’s space by 2026. The Green Fields Market expansion and relocation project is meant to invigorate the local economy and help revive Greenfield’s downtown by occupying the basement and first floor, while the upper floors will be turned into 65 mixed-income apartments. Williams said the current co-op space at 144 Main St. is not sustainable due to all the business the place sees and its nearly 100 employees.

“We know we’ve done everything we can in that location,” Williams said during a first-floor tour.

He showed McGovern, Gobi and others where various foodstuffs — such as meat and seafood — are expected to be in the new location. He said this is a $22 million project and the co-op will do its best to maintain any features that preserve the Wilson’s character and legacy.

McGovern and Gobi then visited Wendell Depot Road, where Wendell Historical Society President Ed Hines gave a brief tour and explained the society’s dreams of turning the building into a repository and museum.

Hines explained the building’s history and what it has meant to Wendell. McGovern mentioned he majored in history in college and these types of project speak to him.

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The date of when the society’s museum and gift shop will open depends on the financial support it receives for renovations, Hines said previously. The gift shop alone is expected to cost $15,000 to $17,000 to renovate, which the society is trying to collect via fundraising. More information is available at wendellhistoricalsociety.org.

   Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.