Archive for the ‘Berkshire Historic Sites’ Category

Step Back in Time at the Bidwell House Museum

June 28th, 2014 by Corey A. Edwards

The Bidwell House Museum in Monterey, MAVisit a living piece of 18th century Berkshire history, lovingly restored to its 1780′s condition: The Bidwell House Museum in Monterey, Massachusetts.

An elegant example of a Georgian saltbox style construction, The Bidwell House was originally built in the mid 1700′s as a parsonage by the Reverend Adonijah Bidwell (1716-1784) and a visit here tells the story of the early settlement of the Berkshires.

Bidwell House was restored to it’s late 1700′s condition thanks to the hard work of two fashion designers from New York: Jack Hargis and David Brush.

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History of the Lee Public Library

June 29th, 2013 by Katie Pate

If you have an interest in American history or architecture, make sure to leave a little time during your Berkshires vacation to visit the Lee Library. A beautiful, quiet and historic place, stop in to browse the shelves or enjoy a quiet place to read for a while.

The Lee Library is the only remaining Carnegie library building in the Berkshires. Because of this, it is not only beautiful but also historically significant.

The present building is on the Peter Wilcox homestead. The Wilcox one-story, one-room log house was the location of Lee’s first town meeting held in December 1777.

The remaining original part of the building was constructed in 1907.

Photo circa 1911: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection (REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-D4-72599)

Photo circa 1911: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection (REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-D4-72599)

The total cost of the building, including the lot and furnishings, was $35,500. Andrew Carnegie donated $12,000, the town appropriated $18,300, and the remainder was donated by  citizens. Lee Marble Works quarried and cut the marble used in the construction of the building. The original section of the building is Corinthian in style, with interior woodwork of polished birch.

The library was expanded in 1977. Again, Lee Marble was used in the construction. The new wing tripled the size of the library to to 7,500 square feet. The addition includes the Betty Dennis Children’s Room, stacks, a reading room, and the Gallery.

What is a Carnegie Library?

Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated money to build a total of 2,509 libraries between 1883 and 1929, including some belonging to public and university library systems. 1,689 were built in the United States, 660 in Britain and Ireland, 125 in Canada, and others in Australia, New Zealand, Serbia, the Caribbean, Mauritius and Fiji.

Very few towns that requested a grant – and agreed to his terms  – were refused. The last grant was made in 1919 and there were 3,500 libraries in the United States; nearly half of them built with construction grants paid by Carnegie.

Lodging for your Berkshires Vacation

Whether you are visiting the Berkshires to take in modern American art at Tanglewood or Jacob’s Pillow, natural beauty or history, the Berkshires has something for everyone. We would love to be your hosts at our Bed and Breakfast in Lee, the gateway to the Berkshires.

Things to do in the Berkshires: Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Lee

May 8th, 2013 by Katie Pate

You can get a walking tour map from the Lee visitor information center at the Chamber of Commerce, a 2 Park Place. Here are some of our favorite stops on the tour:

Congregational Church. (25 Park Place) The 150-foot steeple makes this church the tallest structure in town. It is an unusually fine example of Romanesque style of architecture and it is the dominant feature of the green on which it stands. It was burned down in the Main Street fire of 1857 and rebuilt. Afterwards, it became a favorite item of gossip in other Congregational churches in the Berkshires because it was too ornate and fancy. From June through October tours are given every Saturday morning from 11 am to 1 pm.

Lee Library. (100 Main St.) The original part of the Lee Library was built in 1907 and is the only remaining “Carnegie library” building in the Berkshires. Lee Marble Works quarried and cut the local marble used in the construction.

The Historic Lee Library

The Historic Lee Library

Memorial Hall. (32 Main St.) Built in 1874, the town offices and Lee Police Station are housed here. The entire structure is a Civil War Memorial. Etched on tablets inside the building read the names of 38 Lee men killed in the War Between the States.

St. George Episcopal Church. (20 Franklin St) The Church was built in 1858. In 1861, it was burned to the ground. After another fire in 1879, several improvements were made to the building. Most notable among them were two beautiful stained glass windows.  One, entitled “The Light of the World”, was installed in the nave of the church.  The window pictures Jesus knocking at a door with no outside latch, bringing the message that hearts, like the door, should be open.

Visiting the Berkshires this Summer?

Come and stay with us at the Applegate Inn Bed and Breakfast. Between our expansive grounds, pool and luxurious guestrooms, you will be thrilled with your choice!

 

Historic Homes of Western Massachusetts

May 17th, 2012 by Applegate Inn

Western Massachusetts is full of historic homes, many of which are beautifully maintained and open for public viewing. Guests of our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast have been known to pass many delightful hours perusing these old homes and their grounds.

Read on for a list of several favorite historic properties close to the Applegate Inn, a luxurious Berkshires Bed and Breakfast constructed at the end of America’s Gilded Age.

Naumkeag, Berkshires Historic Landmark

Naumkeag

Naumkeag

This architectural masterpiece served as a summer retreat for three generations of the Choate family. Naumkeag has extraordinary views of Monument Mountain and amazing gardens filled with fountain pools and a grove of white birches.

 

The Mission House

Located on Stockbridge’s Main Street, the historic Mission House was home to the first missionary who lived among the Mohican Indians, the Reverand John Sergeant. Today it houses a collection of 18th-century American furniture and decorative arts.

 

William Cullen Bryant Homestead

The serene views of the Westfield River Valley seen from this National Historic Landmark must have inspired poet William Cullen Bryant, who lived here as a boy and summered here as an adult. Several trails lead through pastures, forests, and an old sugar bush.

 

Pack a picnic and spend a day at each of these lovely historic properties. Discover why the Berkshires captivated so many of America’s successful historical personnages.

 

 

Spring on a New England Shaker Farm

April 23rd, 2012 by Applegate Inn

Animals at Hancock Shaker Village

Learn about the Shaker farm animals this April at Hancock Shaker Village.

Spring is a fabulous time to visit a Shaker Farm.

The month of April is devoted to baby animals at Hancock Shaker Village, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Guests of our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast have a few more days to experience this event.

Daily Behind-the-Scenes tours are being given at 2 p.m. (with additional tours at 10 a.m. on weekends). Get close to newborn pigs and learn a bit about animal husbandry, Shaker style. The crowning moment is a hayride around the farm, with animals aboard. Warning: not for the allergic!

New work by Stockbridge artist Susan Merrill will be on display in the Poultry House throughout the month. Her paintings feature animals from Hancock Shaker Village; proceeds support programming at the village.

Beginning in April, it’s also possible to Choose Your Own Shaker Adventure at Hancock Shaker Village. You can learn a Shaker Song and Dance, take a calf for a stroll, and cook in the Shaker kitchen (which dates from 1830). Learn about Shaker architecture, Shaker Spirituality, or Shaker Medicine. These adventures are offered through the fall, and are a wonderful way to delve into the Shaker lifestyle.

Hancock Shaker Village is about 30 minutes from our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast.

Please visit the Hancock Shaker Village website for additional information.

New England’s Mohawk Trail

March 12th, 2012 by Applegate Inn

The Mohawk Trail became the first scenic road in New England in 1914, and it has been sharing great views, history, and culture with motorists and bicyclists ever since.

Long before it became a road, The Mohawk Trail was a well-worn foot path used by Native Americans and then colonists. Metacomet, called King Philip, traveled “The Trail” some time around 1676. Benedict Arnold followed in his footsteps nearly 100 years later. It is thrilling for American history buffs to travel The Trail today.

The current Mohawk Trail spans more than 60 miles and travels through 50,000 acres of state parks and forests. It stretches from the Massachusetts-New York border to Millers Falls on the Connecticut River; in between, there are over 100 attractions worth exploring.

Berkshires Inn near Mohawk Trail State Forest.

The Mohawk Trail State Forest.

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Why Cover a Bridge?

October 28th, 2011 by Applegate Inn

Bridges are inherently picturesque, and covered bridges even more so. The engineering and craftsmanship required to suspend materials over rivers, streams, and gorges is often remarkable to behold. This seems to be doubly true when it comes to covered bridges.

Covered Bridge in Sheffield, Mass.

Idyllic winter scene: the covered bridge in Sheffield, Massachusetts.

Humans have constructed bridges – and covered them – for thousands of years. As bridge engineering and materials have changed, the need to take the time and expense to cover bridges has been reduced. Most of the old covered bridges that were used in the United States have long since been replaced with modern, uncovered varieties. The result is that there are now fewer than 800 covered bridges in the country, where once they numbered in the tens of thousands.

It’s worth taking a little side trip to see a covered bridge, if you happen to be anywhere near one. As it happens, our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast is near a covered bridge – the Upper Sheffield Bridge over the Housatonic River. It’s about fifteen miles south of our Lee Massachusetts Bed and Breakfast.

Vehicular traffic is not permitted on the bridge, but visitors are allowed to walk across it. It’s fun to stand in the middle of the bridge on rainy days, safely dry as you listen to the river under your feet and the rain above your head. It’s also quite an experience to walk across the bridge on wintery days, when the shelter is both needed and appreciated.

Covered bridges are part art, part architecture, and part historical artifact. If any of these areas interest you, check out the Upper Sheffield Bridge when next you stay at our Bed and Breakfast in the Massachusetts Berkshires.

Please see Sheffield Covered Bridge for directions.

 

 

 

 

Fun at Hancock Shaker Village

September 14th, 2011 by Applegate Inn

Walk

Spend some time at Hancock Shaker Village while at our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast.

Hancock Shaker Village is always an interesting place to visit.

Shaker communities are uniquely American, though their origins can be traced back to French and English groups in the 17th and early 18th centuries. In 1774, a small group of Shaking Quakers led by Mother Ann (Ann Lee) traveled to the New World to establish a communal utopian society based on purity, pacifism, tolerance and gender equality. Many people at the time were interested in creating such utopian societies, but the Shakers were by far the most successful. By the early 19th century, there were approximately 6,000 Shakers in America.

There are no Shakers today, but their legacy remains in the beautiful architecture and furniture they created. Shaker Villages in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Ohio, and Kentucky reveal much about what the Shakers valued. They embraced simplicity, but they valued inventiveness. They believed in hard work, but they appreciated tools that facilitated that work. Their buildings and furniture were functional, but they were also beautiful. They still are.

It is worth noting several upcoming events at Hancock Shaker Village, which is close to our Bed and Breakfast in the Berkshires.

  • Country Fair, September 24 & 25, 2011. Celebrate the bounty of the harvest. Enjoy wagon rides, a Farmers Market, and agricultural demonstrations. Many local and regional craftspeople and artisans will be on hand, demonstrating their skills and selling their products. Live music, a pie contest, and a quilt show round out the event. Please see Country Fair for details.
  • Shaker Suppers, October 22 & 29, November 5 & 26. Enjoy a guided tour of Hancock Shaker Village, led by interpreters in period attire. A cider and cheese reception in the kitchen of the historic Brick Dwelling (beer and wine available for purchase) will be followed by dinner in the Believers’ Dining Room. Feast by candlelight on dishes inspired by The Best of Shaker Cooking, by Amy Bess Miller. To purchase tickets, please visit Hancock Shaker Village.
  • Choose Your Own Shaker Adventure, ongoing. Interested in a specific aspect of Shaker culture, such as Shaker Spirituality or Shaker Inventions and Innovations? You may create your own custom tour. More information is available at Hancock Shaker Village.

We’re happy that Hancock Shaker Village is so close to our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast. We feel like we understand why they settled here, back in the late 1780′s . There is something utopian about the Massachusetts Berkshires.

 

 

Reflections on Melville

September 7th, 2011 by Applegate Inn

Herman Melville had deep ties to the land and deep ties to the sea. He loved the Berkshire Hills, where his uncle had a farm and where he spent many summers during his youth. Yet at the age of 22, Melville did not head to the Berkshires. Instead, he went to sea. Melville shipped out of Massachusetts on board the Acushnet, a whaler bound for the Pacific; he spent three years working his way through the islands, often on his own. The experience had a profound impact on his life and his writing.

Reflections on Melville is an exhibit at Arrowhead, Herman Melville’s home in the Massachusetts Berkshires.

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Candlelight and Chocolate at Melville’s Farmhouse

February 10th, 2011 by Applegate Inn

Herman Melville, author of the American classic Moby-Dick (among others), spent his early childhood in the high society of New York City and his adolescence living less affluently in Albany, NY. His first visit to the farm in Pittsfield that was purchased by his grandfather was in 1832, when Herman Melville was just thirteen. His reaction was immediate and strong – he loved the farm and the land on which it stood.

The beauty of the Berkshires, particularly the view of Mount Greylock from the family farm, eventually inspired Melville to move to the region permanently. In 1850, he purchased a neighboring farm that enjoyed the same views of Mount Greylock and moved there with his wife and his young son. They named their homestead Arrowhead after the Native American arrowheads found in the fields, and resided in the 1783 farmhouse for thirteen years. Many of his finest works, including Moby-Dick, were penned in the second-floor library at Arrowhead.

Arrowhead remained in the Melville family until 1927. It was purchased by the Berkshire Historical Society in 1975; restoration of the farm buildings began shortly thereafter, and continues to this day. Arrowhead houses an extensive collection of Melville manuscripts along with other items overseen by the Berkshire Historical Society.

Arrowhead is open to the public daily between Memorial Day and October, and for several special events throughout the year. One such event takes place this weekend and next weekend, February 12, 13 and February 18 – 20, 2011: the Candlelight and Chocolate Tours. This is a wonderful activity for guests of our luxury Berkshires Bed and Breakfast.

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