The Bidwell House Museum is an authentically restored and furnished, pre-colonial home on 192 acres in Monterey, MA. Tours of the former parsonage, built in the 1760’s, take you back in time to life in the 18th century.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Bidwell House is that, unlike so many other historic house museums, it is not a grand mansion. Instead, the two-story, post-and-beam, Georgian saltbox was built as a parsonage for Reverend Adonijah Bidwell (1716-1784). Reverend Bidwell was the first minister of Housatonic Township No. 1, now Monterey and Tyringham, MA. Consequently, visitors to the museum gain a rare view of middle class life in the 18th century Berkshires. Fascinating!
At first glance, the remote location of the home is a bit of a head-scratcher. Why would anyone build a house like this, tucked away in the woods, in the middle of nowhere? In fact, when the house was built in the 1760’s, it was in the center of town near a busy intersection connecting the two Housatonic Township No. 1 settlements.
The Bidwell House and property remained in the Bidwell family until 1853. Thereafter, it saw a variety of different owners and purposes, including a logging company and serving as the Berkshire Summer School of the Arts.
New York fashion designers Jack Hargis and David Brush purchased the house in 1960 and spent 25 years restoring it to it’s 18th century condition. They even went so far as to furnish the house according to Reverend Bidwell’s historic probate inventory. Upon their deaths, the house became a historic house museum.
Visiting Bidwell House
Bidwell House visitors can enjoy guided tours imparting the history of the house, the Bidwell family, and life in the 18th century Berkshires.
Tours are docent or intern led and very informative. They begin outside, looking at the architecture and grounds, then move inside to tour both floors of the house. You’ll see the home’s original kitchen, dining room, entrance hall, parlor, bedchambers, garrett, and more. You’ll marvel at the home’s classic details and authentic, antique furnishings.
Visitors can also enjoy outdoor, self-guided tours of the museum gardens and grounds. Free maps and historical guides for the tours are available online and at the museum kiosk.
The museum’s 192 acres include hiking trails, foot paths, a variety of gardens, and the remains of an orchard. Be sure to check out the Native American Interpretive Trail. This fascinating self-guided walk details part of the story of the Stockbridge Mohicans, who called this area home for thousands of years.
Location and Hours
The Bidwell House Museum is located at 100 Art School Road in Monterey, MA. This is less than a half hour from the door of our Berkshires bed and breakfast, Applegate Inn.
Museum hours are Thursday through Monday, 11am to 4pm, Memorial Day to October. Museum gardens and grounds are open for self-guided, outside tours, hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing year-round, dawn to dusk.