Historic Northampton

Historic Northampton Our newly opened exhibit, Making it on Main Street, tells the 400-year history of downtown Northampton and includes a model of the town in 1847+ more than a dozen interactive activities for kids and grown-ups. Come check it out!

Historic Northampton is a museum of local history in the heart of the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts. Its collection of approximately 50,000 objects and three historic buildings is the repository of Northampton and Connecticut Valley history from the Pre-Contact era to the present. Historic Northampton constitutes a campus of three contiguous historic houses, all on their original sites. The grounds themselves are part of an original Northampton homelot, laid out in 1654. Find us on Instagram @Historic.Northampton !

Brian Boyles, director of Mass Humanities, and his daughter enjoy a variation of paper dolls, one of the two dozen hands...
07/07/2019

Brian Boyles, director of Mass Humanities, and his daughter enjoy a variation of paper dolls, one of the two dozen hands-on activities for children and grown-ups to play with at Historic Northampton.

Kiki Smith, Historic Northampton's board chair, is in the background near reproduction cloaks and vests that visitors can try on.

Photo by Emma Winter Zeig

Delicious music on a steamy evening....we've shifted inside to our air conditioned space, with another speaker outside f...
07/06/2019

Delicious music on a steamy evening....we've shifted inside to our air conditioned space, with another speaker outside for those who want to enjoy steamy music on a steamy night.

Come join us & help us make history!
International & awesome.

07/06/2019

Tonight's concert is ON at Historic Northampton!

The weather is a bit iffy, but looks good enough that we've made the call and our first concert featuring famed Brazilian musician Sessa will take place!

Picnicking starts at 6 pm, with music to follow from 7-9 pm.

Bring a your own food or enjoy the tasty offerings of Ginger Love Cafe, which will be selling from their food truck.

Free iced tea & water available courtesy Beyond Green and Historic Northampton.

We've had a great couple of weeks (see photos!), with terrific outings, lots of visitors and a very lovely letter to the...
07/05/2019

We've had a great couple of weeks (see photos!), with terrific outings, lots of visitors and a very lovely letter to the Editor of the Gazette

What's next???? Join us tomorrow Saturday, July 11:

11 am: Public Reading of Frederick Douglass' 1852 Speech: "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"

THEN come back at 6 pm to picnic on our grounds before for our first summer concert begins at 7 pm, featuring internationally known Brazilian pop & folk singer Sessa.

Ginger Love Cafe will be on hand if you'd like to buy food.

In collaboration with Laudable Productions, with special thanks to the International Language Institute and First Churches.

Sponsor: Beyond Green Construction

(***In case of rain, the performance will be held in First Churches on Main Street)

Looking forward to having lots of people visit during our regular hours--Wednesday to Sunday from 12-4 pm.And in additio...
06/25/2019

Looking forward to having lots of people visit during our regular hours--Wednesday to Sunday from 12-4 pm.

And in addition to information for grown-ups, we now have lots of fun, hands-on, uniquely Northampton activities for children.

What a thrill to attend last week's stellar opening of Historic Northampton's 'Making it on Main Street' exhibit (https://www.historicnorthampton.org/exhibits.html) meeting Frances Crowe in front of the portion of the exhibit which celebrates her life and work. Two quick things:

1. PLEASE take a moment to visit this extraordinary exhibit packed with important local history beautifully rendered. THANK YOU to everyone who made it possible.

2. Frances was one of the first people I met with upon moving to this valley. People told me, "If you want to organize here, you have to sit with Mrs. Crowe." And so I did. And Frances has been a guiding light ever since. In the moment pictured, we were talking about the Iran Nuclear Deal and I was filling her in on what national organizers at MoveOn were doing (since I'm now a proud MoveOn member). But we could have just as easily been speaking about the crisis at our nation's border and what the state must do to ensure the rights of immigrants. Or so much else. Because Frances' passion for social justice and peace knows absolutely no bounds.

We had so much fun at Historic Northampton's public opening of Making it on Main Street! In addition to the stunning exh...
06/23/2019

We had so much fun at Historic Northampton's public opening of Making it on Main Street! In addition to the stunning exhibit and hands-on activities inside, there were lots of activities happening outside too.

Special thanks to Judy Herrell, Kelly Niland, Herrell's Ice Cream, author/illustrator Mike Curato, Bluedog Forestry, Rock & Star, author Susan Stinson, the always exuberant Expandable Brass Band, the jaw-dropping performances by the A2Z Yo-Yo Team and to the dozens of amazing volunteers who helped set up, clean-up and attend to every activity!

Thanks to all who came & see you soon!

Museum hours: Wednesday-Sunday 12-4 pm
www.historicnorthampton.org

Come join us!Historic Northampton celebrates its grand re-opening to the public and Making it on Main Street today from ...
06/22/2019

Come join us!

Historic Northampton celebrates its grand re-opening to the public and Making it on Main Street today from 1-4.

In addition to the exhibit and hands-on activities, there will be live oxen demonstrations by Tom Jenkins featuring Rock & Star, a performance by the A2Z yo-yo team, a Faces of Northampton photo shoot, music by the Expandable Brass Band, a cartooning demonstration, free Herrell's Ice Cream and much more for people of all ages.

Parking: Free parking is available on the street, at Bridge Street School and in the lower level of the Northampton Arts Trust at 33 Hawley Street.

Parking at Historic Northampton is reserved for those with accessible placards.

Less than a week until the Grand Public Opening of Making it on Main Street on Saturday, June 22nd! In anticipation of t...
06/17/2019

Less than a week until the Grand Public Opening of Making it on Main Street on Saturday, June 22nd!

In anticipation of that historic event, here are two "Previews" for you:

Read the news about Historic Northampton (pages 16-18) in Preview Magazine.
https://view.publitas.com/p222-4389/preview-june-2019/page/1

And take a sneak peek at one of the several hands-on activities that have been designed for kids and families in the new exhibit and are uniquely Northampton.

Join us on Saturday, June 22 for the public opening of Making it on Main Street, our new exhibit highlighting 400 years ...
06/04/2019

Join us on Saturday, June 22 for the public opening of Making it on Main Street, our new exhibit highlighting 400 years of change in downtown Northampton and featuring hands-on and interactive activities and a detailed, 12' model of downtown in 1847.

Timing: 1-4 pm

Lots of great activities for kids and families--including the return of oxen Rock & Star, a cartooning demonstration by children's author Jarrett Krosoczka, music by the Expandable Brass Band, free Herrell's Ice Cream and much more!

Historically wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) was fairly widespread in Northampton, occurring along the old railroad beds,...
06/04/2019

Historically wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) was fairly widespread in Northampton, occurring along the old railroad beds, in the sandy spits along the Connecticut River and in many of the City's sandplains. Today it's known from only 3 locations (one site has 1 plant and the other has ~a dozen). Spring Grove Cemetery in Florence is one of the best areas in western Massachusetts to see this increasingly unusual plant and it's at its peak this week. Here are a series of images.

The tulips in the side garden at Historic Northampton. And that's not all of them! May 10, 2019
05/10/2019

The tulips in the side garden at Historic Northampton. And that's not all of them!

May 10, 2019

Noteworthy Happenings this week!1. Our board chair & Smith College professor Kiki Smith was featured in yesterday's NY T...
05/03/2019

Noteworthy Happenings this week!

1. Our board chair & Smith College professor Kiki Smith was featured in yesterday's NY Times Style section about Smith College's clothing collection. The article includes two brief mentions of Historic Northampton. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/29/fashion/smith-college-clothing-collection.html

2. We had a small celebration for two of our Smith College interns, Eve Loftus and Emma Crumbly, recognizing their contributions this semester as well as their upcoming graduations.

3. The framework for the new casework in the gallery was installed! The cases are being fabricated and assembled by Douglas Thayer & his crew.

The last blooms of Massachusetts' state flower Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens) can still be seen in blossom. Other com...
05/02/2019

The last blooms of Massachusetts' state flower Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens) can still be seen in blossom. Other common (but less frequently used) names for this species is Ground Laurel, because its leaves remain green during the winter as well as Mayflower, because of the timing of its flowers. It was chosen as the state flower in 1918.

In Northampton, trailing arbutus can be found many places--in particular in the dry, acidic soils in the Sawmill and Mineral Hills in Northampton. This particular patch is growing along Reservoir Road, opposite the Roberts Meadow Reservoir.

The fresh flowers have a light, gardenia-like fragrance. No wonder it was popular in May Day baskets!

The next wildflower in this series is a beauty, but its aroma is very different!

It's May Day--a day during the 19th century and much of the 20th when children and young people filled baskets with wild...
05/01/2019

It's May Day--a day during the 19th century and much of the 20th when children and young people filled baskets with wildflowers and gave them to loved ones. That tradition has faded away, so in lieu of a basket, here are images of flowers blooming today along the bike path between Florence and downtown Northampton. Flowers and trees... with a bonus image at the end.

"Main Street Mash-Up" --Uniquely NorthamptonOne of the many hands-on activities that will be available when Historic Nor...
04/30/2019

"Main Street Mash-Up" --Uniquely Northampton

One of the many hands-on activities that will be available when Historic Northampton re-opens in June!

Get ready to mix-it-up!

If Sylvester Graham were alive today, he would champion this message!But wait....there is an "ingredient" in this image ...
04/09/2019

If Sylvester Graham were alive today, he would champion this message!

But wait....there is an "ingredient" in this image that he'd find offensive! It would overstimulate the body ...and you know what that can lead to!

Do you know what the ingredient is?

Meanwhile we hope you'll take the message to heart and consider becoming a member or making a donation today.

To join or give, visit: www.historicnorthampton.org

Thank you! As a private, independent non-profit, we depend on your support.

Thanks to you, Historic Northampton's April Fool's "breaking news" was viewed more than 11,000 times and reached over 23...
04/08/2019

Thanks to you, Historic Northampton's April Fool's "breaking news" was viewed more than 11,000 times and reached over 23,000 people!

That's a record for us---and that's the truth!

BREAKING NEWS! April 1, 2019Historic Northampton confirms that a tin belonging to Dr. Sylvester Graham (1794-1851) was d...
04/01/2019

BREAKING NEWS!
April 1, 2019

Historic Northampton confirms that a tin belonging to Dr. Sylvester Graham (1794-1851) was discovered early this morning by a Northampton DPW crew repairing potholes on Pleasant Street. The tin was found about three feet below the road surface and immediately in front of Sylvester Graham’s former home, now Sylvester’s Restaurant.

“Even more incredible,” said Historic Northampton co-director Betty Sharpe, "is that the tin held remnants of several, very dry Graham crackers." The condition of the crackers helped confirm the content's provenance. Referring to historical accounts, Sharpe said “That’s just the way his crackers crumbled.”

In Graham’s time, his crackers and bread were the keystone of his health diet, but they were also so unpalatable that his detractors said they “tasted like sawdust.” Laurie Sanders, Historic Northampton’s other co-director, said she expected the newly found crackers would taste “like very old sawdust.” Echoing what Mayor Narkewicz said about his candy bar purchase from NETA, Sanders confirmed that none of the staff at Historic Northampton would be eating the cracker pieces.

The tin and remnant crackers will be on display at Historic Northampton’s upcoming exhibit, Making It on Main Street, which highlights the 400-year history of changes in downtown Northampton and is set to open in late June. Sanders and Sharpe said the new finds will be in close proximity to the Mayor’s uneaten marijuana candy bar, which was found in a different kind of pothole and which Historic Northampton is still waiting to receive to accession.

UMass intern Kelly Niland (with brush) and Smith College intern Eve Loftus (with magnifier) examine some of the crackers...
04/01/2019

UMass intern Kelly Niland (with brush) and Smith College intern Eve Loftus (with magnifier) examine some of the crackers from a tin found on April 1, 2019 by DPW workers repairing a pothole in front of Sylvester's Graham's former home, now Sylvester's Restaurant. The tin belonged to Dr. Sylvester Graham.

A big thank you to the dozen volunteers who showed up to help with Historic Northampton's first annual "Rake-Take A Brea...
03/30/2019

A big thank you to the dozen volunteers who showed up to help with Historic Northampton's first annual "Rake-Take A Break- Eat Some Cake" event!

In two hours, they raked almost all of Historic Northampton's 2 acres!

Check out the then and now photos, the volunteers in action....and yes, all of us enjoying cake!

If you'd like to have fun like this or volunteer for other tasks at Historic Northampton, email us at [email protected]

Historic Northampton's cover photo
03/30/2019

Historic Northampton's cover photo

TODAY, Sunday March 24@ Historic Northampton from 2-4 pmKickoff Rake-off 2019RAKE-then BREAK-then EAT CAKEEnjoy a lovely...
03/24/2019

TODAY, Sunday March 24
@ Historic Northampton from 2-4 pm

Kickoff Rake-off 2019

RAKE-then BREAK-then EAT CAKE

Enjoy a lovely spring day, see the first flowers of silver maple, meet other great people, rake leaves and then take a break to celebrate and eat some cake*!

BYOR (rake)....and bring friends & family too!

* Cake, brownies, fruits & more!

Image: female flowers of silver maple.

An amazing amble down Hockanum Road tonight. In lieu of a sunset, we were treated to the arrival of thousands of geese a...
03/24/2019

An amazing amble down Hockanum Road tonight. In lieu of a sunset, we were treated to the arrival of thousands of geese and ducks descending into the Meadows.

And yes, there was some impressive mud and puddles too! Plus eagles (4), red-tailed hawks and a large mixed flock of grackles & redwings.

This may be the last weekend to go ice fishing --or talk with people who are ice fishing--on the oxbow in Northampton. H...
03/22/2019

This may be the last weekend to go ice fishing --or talk with people who are ice fishing--on the oxbow in Northampton.

Here are a few images from a couple weeks ago.

This is the male eagle (note leg band) that's part of the pair nesting in the ancient, 700-year old oxbow in Northampton...
03/22/2019

This is the male eagle (note leg band) that's part of the pair nesting in the ancient, 700-year old oxbow in Northampton. The nest, which is in the section known as Ned's Ditch, can be seen by walking down the farm road opposite the Oxbow Ski Club.

This image was taken as the eagle was cruising low over the main oxbow, which was cut off on February 25, 1840. At that time, eagles were exceedingly rare in Massachusetts due to habitat changes and persecution. Today bald eagles are fairly common sights in Northampton, especially along the Connecticut River.

Photo by Laurie Sanders

Images from today's "Celebrate the Struggle: 100 Signs for 100 Years" With music from the Expandable Brass Band, people ...
03/16/2019

Images from today's "Celebrate the Struggle: 100 Signs for 100 Years"

With music from the Expandable Brass Band, people walked behind Frances Crowe this afternoon--some carrying signs about an issue they were concerned about, others celebrating Frances and her 100th birthday.

Northampton's long tradition of social activism continued this afternoon when hundreds of people took part in "100 Signs...
03/16/2019

Northampton's long tradition of social activism continued this afternoon when hundreds of people took part in "100 Signs for 100 Years"
and celebrated Frances Crowe's 100th birthday.

The city's legendary peace activist is shown here at the front of the parade surrounded by her family and friends.

A year ago today, we recognized St. Patrick's Day by describing the various  ways Historic Northampton was "getting gree...
03/15/2019

A year ago today, we recognized St. Patrick's Day by describing the various ways Historic Northampton was "getting greener and going green."

In addition to meeting our $150,000 challenge match (hooray!), we had just installed new green shutters on the Damon House and thanks to donors Brian Adams and Morey Phippen, installed solar panels on the roof of the Damon Education Center.

Here's a video by Northeast Solar that nicely summarizes why Historic Northampton is committed to getting greener, buying locally and operating as sustainably as possible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lekm99ZGUV4

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

As part of the St. Patrick's Day activities in Northampton, dozens of people gathered to lay a wreath at the Monument to...
03/15/2019

As part of the St. Patrick's Day activities in Northampton, dozens of people gathered to lay a wreath at the Monument to Daley & Halligan, two Irishmen who were falsely accused of murder and hanged in Northampton in 1806. The two were exonerated in 1984 through a proclamation by then Governor Michael Dukakis.

For more about Daley & Halligan, visit http://www.historic-northampton.org/daleyandhalligan/daleyandhalligan.html

Shown here after the ceremony is Martin O'Reardon, 8 months, held by his mother, Siobhan Connolly.

It's maple sugaring season...but have you ever wondered why Northampton's commercial sugaring operations are found only ...
03/12/2019

It's maple sugaring season...but have you ever wondered why Northampton's commercial sugaring operations are found only in the western part of town?

Yes, there are more sugar maples found in the vicinity of Sylvester & Kennedy Roads. But why is that???

Answer: Bedrock geology.

The western part of Northampton is underlain by 400-million year old bedrock that is part of the Giles Mountain Formation. In contrast to the similarly aged metamorphic rocks that underlie the Sawmill Hills & Fitzgerald Lake area, the Giles Mountain Formation, which formed when Africa collided with North America, contains inclusions of impure marble and calcareous minerals. When these minerals weather out, they create more pH neutral soils, which sugar maple prefers. Because of a higher pH, the soils are able to hold on to important nutrients like calcium and magnesium, which creates richer, more fertile conditions required by a number of plant species (e.g. butternut, basswood, red-berried elder, several kinds of ferns, and a variety of spring ephemerals like bloodroot, dutchman's breeches, columbine, etc). In contrast, the bedrock underlying the Sawmill Hills and Fitzgerald Lake area weather to create more acidic soils, where oaks, mountain laurel and other more acid-tolerant species dominate.

So....this is a cool example of how bedrock geology has defined local land use...and our sweet pleasures!

(About this photo: Collecting sap from this bucket along Sylvester Road is a tad risky. In addition to the barbed wire, the person collecting the sap has to avoid those long, skinny lateral branches, which are not sugar maple branches but actually poison ivy!)

Sap buckets on sugar maple.Sylvester Road, Northampton, MA March 11, 2019
03/12/2019

Sap buckets on sugar maple.
Sylvester Road, Northampton, MA

March 11, 2019

Tune in tomorrow morning (3/12) to The Bill Newman Show on WHMP to hear Historic Northampton's Betty Sharpe describe the...
03/11/2019

Tune in tomorrow morning (3/12) to The Bill Newman Show on WHMP to hear Historic Northampton's Betty Sharpe describe the history of social activism in Northampton and where the City's legendary peace and war activist Frances Crowe fits in.

Betty will be joining Claudia Lefko, one of the coordinators for the celebrations and activities to mark Frances' 100th birthday, which takes place later this week.

Bill's interview with Betty and Claudia will be ~9:15 a.m., but you can hear the Bill Newman show every weekday at 9AM (and again at 6PM) on WHMP 101.5 & 107.5FM/1240 & 1400 AM.

To learn more about the events happening to mark Frances Crowe's birthday, check out our Facebook events or visit www.historicnorthampton.org

Address

46 Bridge St
Northampton, MA
01060-2428

Opening Hours

Wednesday 12:00 - 16:00
Thursday 12:00 - 16:00
Friday 12:00 - 16:00
Saturday 12:00 - 16:00
Sunday 12:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(413) 584-6011

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