Historic Springfield & Pioneer Valley

Historic Springfield & Pioneer Valley Founded in 1636 as one of the four original River Towns of the Connecticut Valley, Springfield, blossomed in the industrial age to become the leading incubator of a technology revolution that made the Connecticut Valley the center of the new economy

Historic Springfield is a Facebook community for people who care about the city and its adjoining region; who value historic and cultural resources, who believe historic preservation is necessary and who would like to help build a stronger sense of place, past and community - through communication, civic scholarship, and experiences that foster sustainability

Christine Ermenc and I have used this time of social distancing during #CoronaVirusWatch while the museums are all close...
06/05/2020

Christine Ermenc and I have used this time of social distancing during #CoronaVirusWatch while the museums are all closed to ramp up our visits to burying grounds and cemeteries. We pack a lunch, almost never see anyone and off we go with the mirror we use to direct the sun to get great pictures - the natural angle without it being good for only about an hour. It only works on sunny days (like today) and that's when we go.

One of my favorite #PioneerValley towns is Northfield, Massachusetts which was THE northern most town in the CT Valley settled during the 17th century. The Main St there is filled end to end with outstanding early houses.

A lot of the early #folkart gravestones in the burying ground there are by a stonecutter named Janes - If I recall correctly. The stuff is highly original and interesting. Also interesting how few surnames there are on these early gravestones. There could have been as few as a dozen families that settled the place early on. They stayed & married their children off to one another. A bit the way it was in these less commercial towns. Visit Northfield. Poke around. You won't be disappointed.

No one here will read this whole thing (click link), but it might be fun to sample. It was a student thesis I did in col...
06/03/2020

No one here will read this whole thing (click link), but it might be fun to sample. It was a student thesis I did in college in 1977 at a time when you could fit all the literature on #WomensHistory in the glove compartment of a car. This collection of letters at the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History blew my mind. The best slice of life for early America I'd seen up to that time. I surmised (but my faculty advisor insisted I was reading too much into it) that what I was reading documented a romantic attachment between two women. Decades later a phd scholar / professor from Canada wrote this fabulous, can't-put-it-down book based on yet more documentation I didn't see - and keener research skills and interpretation. BTW - these are some of the sites in Plainfield, Massachusetts that were occupied and well-known to the personalities in this story. Great stuff which made it all the more exciting for me to get involved in efforts to preserve and promote the #ShawHudsonHouse museum in Plainfield. #LocalHistoryisLivingHistory. #SmallMuseumsMatter

https://plainfieldmahistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/CopyofWilliamHosleyPaper.pdf

05/26/2020
I wonder what it would take to get Smith College Museum of Art or ? to do a little show on the Hadley artist #ElbridgeKi...
05/20/2020

I wonder what it would take to get Smith College Museum of Art or ? to do a little show on the Hadley artist #ElbridgeKingsley - who had a national reputation in the day (mostly a century ago). Forbes Library has an archive of his photos, etc. I stumbled on a couple great pix of him at work (1st 2 images here) in the #CliftonJohnson archive at Jones Library. His paintings (several shown here) turn up i the local historical societies around here. Smith College may have some. Every place has an #ArtHistory - we should celebrate ours more. This is great stuff.
http://images.forbeslibrary.org/collections/show/11

Then and now. Old Burying Ground, #OldDeerfield (drawing by #CliftonJohnson from Jones Library archive
05/20/2020

Then and now. Old Burying Ground, #OldDeerfield (drawing by #CliftonJohnson from Jones Library archive

I was glad to see the restored #CivilWar monument in Deerfield - one of the first (1867) erected after the war - and one...
05/18/2020

I was glad to see the restored #CivilWar monument in Deerfield - one of the first (1867) erected after the war - and one of the most interesting anywhere, because of its nod to a longer history - which one almost never sees on these things - (see 2nd to last picture here). I also love that it was made in James Batterson's monument shop in Hartford - a topic I've done a lot of work on (see last slide). Click here for more on the restoration. Shown here are pix from last weekend and 2009 before i8t was restored. https://www.gazettenet.com/Soldier-replication-for-Deerfield-Civil-War-Monument-26192321

As sad as it is to see abandoned historic  houses that #CliftonJohnson of Hadley photographed (Jones Library archives) 1...
05/18/2020

As sad as it is to see abandoned historic houses that #CliftonJohnson of Hadley photographed (Jones Library archives) 100+ years ago, it's great that he photographed them. By 1920, most towns in #ruralNewEngland had been losing population for a century - nothing new was being built in most rural towns. Ruin and abandonment was everywhere. I wish I could go back in a time tunnel and see what he did

The Hadley Farm Museum has long been one of my favorites in the Pioneer Valley. I hope it's ok. Seems their hours have f...
05/18/2020

The Hadley Farm Museum has long been one of my favorites in the Pioneer Valley. I hope it's ok. Seems their hours have fallen off in recent years. There's nothing like it. I wish I knew its history in greater depth. Apparently founded in 1930 when photographer, writer and artist Clifton Johnson moved a big barn from Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum into the center of town to start it. I am guessing that he organized many of the exhibits. These drawings in his collection at Jones Library are suggestive of his style of display. It is extraordinary.

Mt Holyoke was a famous #TouristDestination. #ThomasCole who painted the cover picture on this site (original painting a...
05/18/2020

Mt Holyoke was a famous #TouristDestination. #ThomasCole who painted the cover picture on this site (original painting at Metropolitan Museum of Art) was one of countless artists to paint, draw, capture that wonderful place. So too did #CliftonJohnson, whose archives are at Jones Library in Amherst. I love this views of the funicular - which is the proof of how popular it was - that it had such a thing

In remembrance of our recently departed friend #JPeterSpang, Christine Ermenc and I did a morning loop that took us to p...
05/16/2020

In remembrance of our recently departed friend #JPeterSpang, Christine Ermenc and I did a morning loop that took us to places near and dear to him -including Bardswell Ferry Rd in #ShelburneMA that I first visited as an after dinner road trip with him at the wheel guiding (1976)- vintage Peter - someone who really knew how to #SmelltheRoses and who was devoted to this place - so much that he (and other Deerfield friends) inspired my devotion to that same place. #ILoveCRV. Peter was about the sum total of greater Deerfield (and more). Thinking of him through this lovely spring morning adventure. Joseph Paul Gromacki Clare Edwards Nannie Wright Talbot Brown Suzanne Flynt Philip Zea Robert F. Trent Leslie Keno Jay Cantor

I've had trouble sleeping for the excitement of discovering the depth, variety and importance of the #CliftonJohnson arc...
05/13/2020

I've had trouble sleeping for the excitement of discovering the depth, variety and importance of the #CliftonJohnson archives and photos at Jones Library, These are views of his native and beloved Hadley, Massachusetts - tip of an astonishing iceberg. I hope friend Peter Barberie and I can chat about this. It"s a big deal. #Mesmerized

#CliftonJohnson (1865-1940) dropped out of Hopkins Academy in Hadley at age 15 to work in Northampton at Bridgman and Ch...
05/11/2020

#CliftonJohnson (1865-1940) dropped out of Hopkins Academy in Hadley at age 15 to work in Northampton at Bridgman and Childs book and stationery store. During the mid-1880s he began to write articles and produce illustrations for local papers and magazines in the Springfield and Northampton areas. In the fall of 1887 Johnson left Hadley to attend the Art Students League in New York City and later spent time writing articles, making illustrations, taking his first photographs, and attending literary and art functions, married, had six children. Son Roger Johnson took over Johnson's Bookstore in Springfield, which was started by Clifton and his brother Henry. The first book authored by Johnson was "The New England Country," published in 1892. He wrote a biography of his friend, John Burroughs, the naturalist, and one of Hudson Maxim, the inventor. He also wrote a series of travel books including the Highways and Byways of America series with coverage of 48 states, and volumes on travel in England, Scotland, Ireland, and France. Each volume was illustrated with his photographs or drawings. Johnson was almost exclusively interested in documenting the rural, countryside inhabitants of small towns and farmlands.

Although not as famous, he sounds so much like his contemporary #WallaceNutting as to be almost his twin. Did he also found and create the fabulous Hadley Farm Museum? A genius of sorts. Wonder if anyone has ever written a dissertation or in depth study of him. His extensive papers at the Jones Library in Amherst. These pictures are awesome - a few of more than 3000 - almost all taken in the Pioneer Valley

https://www.joneslibrary.org/313/Johnson-Clifton#7

If you need a #localhistory & #materialculture fix during #CoronaVirusWatch - the best thing to do is explore our verita...
05/09/2020

If you need a #localhistory & #materialculture fix during #CoronaVirusWatch - the best thing to do is explore our veritable outdoor museums known as cemeteries and graveyards - where you'll rarely encounter another person. One of the best in the CT Valley is Longmeadow - which was also the site of the THE BEST QUALITY brownstone and some of the best stonecutter artists. I mean seriously, how awesome is this? And this is just scratching the surface of what's there.

J. Peter Spang, the founding curator and longtime impresario of Historic Deerfield, passed away a couple days ago. He be...
05/08/2020

J. Peter Spang, the founding curator and longtime impresario of Historic Deerfield, passed away a couple days ago. He began work for Henry and Helen Flynt in 1959. I am an Historic Deerfield Summer Fellowship Alumni from the class of 1976. Peter, Sumpter Priddy III, Kevin Sweeney and the late David Proper were tremendous inspirations. I cherish the memory of that summer. Peter collected architectural pattern books - relevant to my seminar paper on #AsherBenjamin. I spent hours on the floor of his living room, pouring over these books, learning what they meant to him, how he understood their history and use. Years later, when I was director of Connecticut Landmarks, we hosted a program at the The Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington CT - on the role of British pattern books on Connecticut architecture where he brought some of his books, brought out some of their's and conducted a workshop for about 40 attendees. It was fabulous. What I especially loved about Peter is his 150% all in for life learning in the field of American art and architecture - expressed through his 60 year love affair with Old Deerfield. He had such an abiding #PassionForPlace. I never knew anyone like that before him. It inspired me. He was the quintessential #antiquarian who taught us how to see places whole and appreciate the little things that make a place special - past and present. He also turned out for EVERYTHING - from programs at Yale University Art Gallery to Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and, of course, anything going on at Historic Deerfield - including the #DublinSeminar which he valued greatly. Any town or institution with even one friend this devoted and engaged - is blessed.

Treasures from Bridge St. Cemetery in Northampton. Places we can still go at a time of social distance (the dead don't m...
04/07/2020

Treasures from Bridge St. Cemetery in Northampton. Places we can still go at a time of social distance (the dead don't make us sick)

Scanning some old negatives and was reminded of these two treasures in Greenfield, Massachusetts. and was reminded of th...
04/07/2020

Scanning some old negatives and was reminded of these two treasures in Greenfield, Massachusetts. and was reminded of these two historic houses which I photographed in 1976. I don't recall where that Italianate Victorian is - hope its safe. I was sorry to see Greenfield vote to build a new library. What happens to the #nationalltreasure 1798 house designed by architect #AsherBenjamin that has been their home for 100+/- years. #HistoricPreservation rarely happens by accident

04/05/2020
Old Sturbridge Village, An Appreciation

Trap me in the house long enough and I might get something done.

https://youtu.be/X_cQpH3Qka4

I am no Ken Burns - but am getting better at this; had some help and encouragement from OSV staff - but its mostly a byproduct of many visits to Sturbridge Village with camera in hand.

I'd like to do more along these lines and could for almost any org big or small - so long as I have good pix.

It packs a lot in for under 12 mins. Hope you watch and enjoy - LIKE, COMMENT & SHARE

In 2020, after countless visits - always camera in hand - I decided I had enough material to tell a story about one of my favorite museums. With help and enc...

Housing History: A Search for Place, Past & Community
04/03/2020

Housing History: A Search for Place, Past & Community

In Blandford, Massachusetts yesterday across the street from the #BlanfordHistorialSociety yesterday and noticed out of the corner of my eye - just up North St this amazing classical #meetinghouse I'd never noticed before - bathed in the most perfect light for photographing. Turns out this 1822 house of worship was built for the Congregational Church, which apparently could no longer care for it or dissolved in 1985. What happened next? The local historical society took it on and now uses it as a rental facility - though you can be sure no one is making much money doing that. I hope the town also helps. The point is - our community based historical orgs are often #FirstResponders when local treasures are at risk - NOT the few and far between #HistoricPerservation orgs - which, BTW, when was the last time you heard one of them acknowledge, much less thank, these local orgs for their pioneering and often heroic work doing what needs to be done to save treasures in #PlacesWorthCaringAbout. This story is not rare or new - but it is a blessing

Stumbling across Thomas Monroe Shepherd (1856-1923) monument  - with its inscription recognizing him as "the founder of ...
03/29/2020

Stumbling across Thomas Monroe Shepherd (1856-1923) monument - with its inscription recognizing him as "the founder of the Shepherd Memorial Museum- in Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton, reminded me of the sad grim affair when Historic Northampton's longtime former director sold off the contents of this utterly unique treasure to - ahem - pay his own salary. People go to jail for lesser crimes. Fortunately they retained some of his extraordinary archives and - no doubt - a few treasures from the house (which was given to them at some point) - deemed too important to sell. That Mass Humanities is now housed there, paying rent, sort of gives me the creeps.

I am working on a video about deaccessioning for my #Museology series on my youtube channel.

https://tinyurl.com/y7jzr7pq

The Berkshire Museum debacle will be discussed as well as this, other case studies and some notions of what best practices is like related to this controversial practice.

Another 18th century house in Northampton, Massachusetts ya can hardly believe. Northampton truly is the most historic c...
03/29/2020

Another 18th century house in Northampton, Massachusetts ya can hardly believe. Northampton truly is the most historic city in western Mass. It deserves to be loved, considered and preserved.

I don't recall if I saw this years ago or had never seen it, but this Northampton, Massachusetts ca 1795 historic house ...
03/28/2020

I don't recall if I saw this years ago or had never seen it, but this Northampton, Massachusetts ca 1795 historic house on North St is amazing. It's been years since I've seen things like this - which I found with some regularity in Vermont in the 1970s. What I see is a house that has probably not changed owners in half a century or more, where most of the elements that make a house like this important are still intact; where peeling off the asbestos siding and repainting what are probably original clapboard would turn this house into something as good or better than anything in #OldDeerfield. I would pay money to have a discreet look inside. WOW

The historic War Memorial Building (1936) in Holyoke, Massachusetts makes you think. Can you imagine anyone engraving wo...
03/27/2020

The historic War Memorial Building (1936) in Holyoke, Massachusetts makes you think. Can you imagine anyone engraving words like these on a public building today? It was during the #GreatDepression. Fascism and the #RedScare were exploding across Europe. I am sure these were comforting notions at the time. What do you think?

03/17/2020
Smith College 2020 Bulb Show

Another casualty of #CoronaVirus is the 2020 flower shows at Smith College Botanic Garden and Mount Holyoke College Botanic Garden. We try to go every year. It's one of the great annual events in this region. So good for Smith for making this video!! Never been before? Add it to your 2021 calendar. Its amazing

https://youtu.be/WPjCy0iRSKQ

Concern for the health of the Smith College community, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, forced the cancellation of this year's Bulb Show; however, we offer t...

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