By Dave O'Connor
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.
Left to Right: Blair Koss, Darlene Golebersuch, VP 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.
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.
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 also 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 owns 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) set for July 31 through Aug. 3.
Nine to 10 artists, including Brown Galbraith, will tour Westfield during the four days in what she calls a "wet paint" event. The results will be displayed at the old station on Aug. 3.
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.