Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum Opens Doors on 3 Centuries of Rural Living

Community-Based Education Opportunity in an Idyllic Setting

A beloved Western Mass historical institution opens its door for its 67th season when Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum takes us on a tour of 3 centuries worth of rural life. A gorgeous setting on the Connecticut River, the Museum hosts many interesting programs including the family friendly music series- ideal for a summer picnic.

The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum, an historic house museum dating to 1752 in Hadley, Massachusetts, opens Sunday, May 15, 2016 for its 67th season. Guided tours will be available Saturday through Wednesday from 1-4:30pm, closed Thursdays and Fridays.

The Porter-Phelps-Huntington House, known as Forty Acres, is an 18th-century farm on the banks of the Connecticut River that today showcases life in rural New England over three centuries.  Through the words, spaces and possessions of the women and men who lived here, the Museum portrays the activities of a prosperous and productive 18th-century farmstead. Members of this household along with numerous artisans, servants and slaves made “Forty Acres” an important social and commercial link in local, regional and national cultural and economic networks. During the 19th century the estate evolved into a rural retreat for the family. In the 20th century the house was preserved as a museum by family members and now contains the possessions of six generations of this extended family. Read the rest of this entry »

The Fabric of History in Western Mass Weaves a Tale

Historic Deerfield Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Their Textile Collection

Early 19th-century tartan wool cloak.

On June 4, 1965, the brand new Fabric Hall was opened to the public at Historic Deerfield (then known as The Heritage Foundation).  Situated behind the Silver Museum in a renovated 1870s barn (now Historic Deerfield’s History Workshop), Fabric Hall showcased the museum’s growing collection of clothing, needlework and domestic textiles.  The gallery, which included innovative ambient lighting, air conditioning, and radiant floor heat, conveyed an early awareness of the need to monitor environmental conditions to protect fragile items.  Fabric Hall was the dream of Helen Geier Flynt (1895-1986) who, along with her husband, Henry N. Flynt (1893-1970), founded Historic Deerfield. No longer limited to the small spaces of the historic house museums, Fabric Hall allowed Mrs. Flynt free reign to display a range of items in the collection, from more exotic and opulent textiles to historic fashions and textiles demonstrating aesthetic or technical excellence. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate Massachusetts’ Mavericks & Preservation Month with TTOR

Home Sweet Home: Celebrate Massachusetts’ Mavericks & Preservation Month with The Trustees of Reservations’

History buffs and explorers can experience places where history was made by some daring individuals during The Trustees of Reservations’ (The Trustees) annual Home Sweet Home Open House event. In honor of Preservation Month and the organization’s diverse collection of historic properties and landmarks, this day-long open house  includes free admission to many of The Trustees’ most exceptional and off-the-beaten-path cultural sites across the state, including five found here in western MA. Read the rest of this entry »

5 Community Walks Lead Towards Seeing a Hidden Landscape in the Hilltowns

Hidden Walls, Hidden Mills: Exploring the Plainfield Landscape

Click to enlargeJoin the Plainfield Historical Society for five free walks and talks exploring and interpreting our forested historical landscape this spring and summer! Starting on Saturday, April 25, 2015, with the Plainfield Aquaduct Company, the first commonly-held utility in Plainfield history.

Sinking deeply into spring mud, as most families living in the Hilltowns are doing, reminds us of the abundance of water that once made Plainfield a center of industrial farming, a boomtown of sorts in which land speculation went hand in hand with great civic efforts to build a community. In five guided talks/walks, learn to see old Plainfield in the landscape, about the mills, springs, and wells, “read” stone foundations and walls like so many tablets, interpret trees and plants to find cellar holes, and enrich your understanding of this beautiful Hilltown.

All tours meet behind the Shaw Memorial Library (Plainfield, MA) at 1pm and are free (donations welcomed). There will first be a “show and tell” of the historical research involved in creating the walk, followed by a walk or hike.  Read the rest of this entry »

From Neighborhood Grocer to the Modern Supermarket

The Big Y: From Neighborhood Grocer to the Modern Supermarket

This exhibit tells the story of community development and business innovation and how this local grocery store impacted the food industry. Through photos and memorabilia, the story of its evolution unfolds and connects visitors to a piece of western MA history.

When you think about shopping local, do you think of Friendly’s Ice Cream? Yankee Candle? The Big Y?  All three of these successful businesses had their beginnings here in Western MA!

A new exhibit at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History traces the journey of Big Y Supermarkets from a small neighborhood grocery store to one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England. The exhibit, entitled The Big Y: From Neighborhood Grocer to the Modern Supermarket, is now on permanent view at the Wood Museum. In close proximity are displays honoring other local success stories like Friendly’s Ice Cream and Smith & Wesson. Read the rest of this entry »

7 Living History Events in Western Mass this Fall

Living History Events Bring Multi-Faceted Education Experience for All Ages

Combining the magic of theater and the mystique of history, living history events provide families with the opportunity to experience the past (and its people) as they were – in character and in context. By teaching history with a theatrical – yet incredibly realistic and accurate – approach, the age range to which a topic appeals becomes wider, allowing younger children to learn about the aesthetic aspects of certain historical eras, while their older counterparts explore the culture, politics, and relevance of the same time periods

Season of Thanks: Society of the 17th Century, Hall Tavern Visitor Center, Historic Deerfield, MA.

Early fall in western Massachusetts brings with it this year a wealth of immersive living history events, affording families a multitude of opportunities to learn experientially about a variety of historic eras, events, people, and practices. By attending one (or many!) of the upcoming living history events, families can explore new ideas and deepen their preexisting understanding of the roots of modern American society. Read the rest of this entry »

Greenfield: A Town with an Innovative Past, Present and Future

Take an educational trip right into Greenfield’s innovative past, present and future

Taken from the upper story front porch of the Grand Trunk Hotel in Turners Falls, this image shows the trolley near Second Street and Avenue A (c.1890), an example of trolly use in the Pioneer Valley. – Courtesy Image.

The Pioneer Valley Institute is offering a day tour of the highlights of Greenfield on Saturday, June 7: “Spring into Greenfield: A Trolley Ride Through our Town’s History and Architecture.” The town’s trolley bus will be the mode of transportation for the day, and is a reminder of the active trolley system available 100 years ago throughout the Connecticut River Valley.

Greenfield, its buildings, its industries, and farmland, offers a complex story. This hub town for Franklin County is the site of fine examples of architectural design, of industrial innovation, and of current efforts to retrofit Greenfield’s fine older buildings to conserve energy for the coming decades. Greenfield was a crossroads for train freight service and will soon see restored passenger service. Waterpower and fine farmland attracted early settlers and investors, and innovators and businesses continue to recognize opportunities in the town.

Read the rest of this entry »

Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center Highlights the History of Silk Thread and the Pioneer Valley

Northampton Silk Threads: The China Connection
Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center
May 1st-31st, 2013

Discover a part of Western MA history at the Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center’s May exhibit, “Northampton Silk Threads: The China Connection.” 

The remnants of the Pioneer Valley’s silk trade are still around – one can find the iconic Silk Mill, visit Silk City (Florence), and gaze up into the branches of mulberry trees all over Northampton. All of these things are representations of the city’s long-ago to silk production and the silk trade in China and Japan.

During the first half of the 19th century, Northampton was a huge producer of silk. Mulberry leaves fed the hungry silk worms, and women worked in factories, helping to spin the silk onto spools in order to be woven into beautiful fabric. Eventually, the demand for silk became too much for the town’s supply of silk worms, and manufacturers began outsourcing to China. However, Chinese silk production methods proved incompatible with mechanical production, and Japan replaced China as the valley’s silk provider until the industry collapsed during America’s Great Depression.

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: