WESTFIELD - Rob Galbraith grew up in Ripley and remembers his dad driving up to Westfield to board the overnight New York Central passenger train for the trip to New York City.
Now Galbraith owns the depot where the journey by rail began for his dad and many thousands of others.
"I have a connection with the station," he said.
OBSERVER Photo by Dave O’Connor
Katherine Brown Galbraith and her husband Rob Galbraith welcomed visitors during the grand opening of The Station Art Gallery & Studio on English Street in Westfield. Rob Galbraith purchased the former New York Central station in 2012 from the estate of Randall Swanson.
Pictured from left: Blair Koss; Darlene Golebersuch, vice president of the Westfield-Barcelona Chamber of Commerce; Martha Bills, Westfield town supervisor; Mike VandeVelde, Westfield mayor; Katherine Brown Galbraith, gallery owner; Rob Galbraith; John Rawlinson, Westfield-Barcelona Chamber of Commerce coordinator.
He purchased the 109-year-old property on English Street from the estate of Dr. Randall Swanson last fall for an undisclosed amount.
Less than a year later, it's open as The Station Art Gallery & Studio and will display works by Rob's wife, Katherine Brown Galbraith, as well as other artists.
Katherine's work has appeared in "House Beautiful," "House and Garden," "Southern Living" and "Where: Boston," according to a brochure about the Gallery & Studio.
Brown Galbraith, a native of Memphis, Tenn., feels right at home in a train station and has produced a series of train paintings, which she said have been exhibited in the headquarters of Ansaldo STS, a global railway and mass transit company.
Rob is comfortable in the old station.
"I'm in the railroad business," he said. Galbraith is employed by Wabtec, short for Westinghouse Air Brake Tech, in Wilmerding, Pa.
He is assistant vice president of Locomotive Original Equipment Manufacture and Electronics Systems Sales.
The couple lives in Pittsburgh, but also own a small farm along Lake Erie in the town of Westfield.
For the time being their business will be open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the warmer months since the old station is not heated. Some special events will expand the open hours from time to time, according to Brown Galbraith. As an example she points to an event called "Plein Air Westfield" (Open Air Westfield) which ran from July 31 through Aug. 3.
Nine to 10 artists including Brown Galbraith toured Westfield during the four days in what she calls a "wet paint" event. The results were displayed at the old station Saturday.
The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The late Dr. Swanson oversaw a 20-year restoration of the old passenger depot. Rob Galbraith plans to continue the work.
"Our mission is a beautiful station, to retain and maintain this," he said and adds, "Some pretty major projects remain." As an example of unfinished work he mentioned the station's basement, which he said, will require extensive cleaning, repair and restoration.