Sycamores House

Sycamores House Sycamores was the 1788 home of Colonel Benjamin Ruggles Woodbridge and a Mount Holyoke College dormitory for much of the 20th century.

Sycamores, one of the finest homes in western Massachusetts, was built in 1788 by Col. Benjamin Ruggles Woodbridge, South Hadley's wealthiest resident. He led a regiment at the Battle of Bunker Hill, hence the rank of colonel. He was a lawyer and our representative in Boston for 12 years, he owned a grist mill, a sawmill, and a still, and a large amount of land and was a batchelor. He hosted Abby Wright when she was looking for a place to establish her girls school that specialized in girlhood embroidery. He was a doctor, but when he died his instruments were worth only $0.50. When he died his probate inventory indicated his most valuable possession was a looking glass, valued at $75. Upon his death in 1819 his estate passed to his nephews who established the Woodbridge School for Boys, for wealthy students from throughout New England. The house passed to the Montague family who farmed the land for some 65 years. The house was purchased in about 1900 by Rose Hollingsworth, a wealthy Bostonian, who probably lived in South Hadley only in the summer. She probably is responsible for the water tower to the northwest of Sycamores that would have provided running water to Sycamores long before it was common in the town. She probably had "modern" fireplaces installed and might be responsible for some of the extraordinary woodwork on the interior. Upon her death the house was purchased by Joseph Skinner who turned the house into a private dormitory for Mount Holyoke College in 1915. It remained private until it was purchased in 1937 by the College and remained a dormitory until 1972. During these 57 years some 850 different women lived in Sycamores. Usually 15 sophomores, a housemother, a maid and a cook lived there. It became a flophouse for male visitors to Mount Holyoke students, then, in the early '80's a residence for inner city high school girls who lived there and went to the local high school as part of the A Better Chance program. Beginning in 1993 the South Hadley Historical Society began to look into acquiring the property. The property was sold to the Society in 1999 and renovation of the badly neglected building began. A major matching grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission allowed for complete renovation of the exterior. In 2005 Kay Bernon gave us Rawson House, the back el of her house at 40 Woodbridge Street, which she had purchased from Mount Holyoke. Built in 1733, Rawson House is South Hadley's oldest dwelling house. It was built for South Hadley's first minister, Grindal Rawson. It is the former home of Mount Holyoke's only Nobel Laureate, Joseph Brodsky and is attached to Sycamores. The interior of Sycamores is being refurbished to reflect the life and times of those who once lived there. The third floor is being make into a unique museum of four typical college dormitory rooms from four periods of the 20th century when it was a dormitory. Sycamores receives no financial support from the town of South Hadley or Mount Holyoke College. It is dependent entirely on donations from the women who once lived there and the generosity of local residents. See www.SycamoresHouse.org.

The most valuable item in the probate inventory of Ruggles Woodbidge when he died in 1819 was his looking glass, valued ...
05/19/2014

The most valuable item in the probate inventory of Ruggles Woodbidge when he died in 1819 was his looking glass, valued at $75. I reproduced this 18th C looking glass; Ruggles might have owned one very much like this. I carved the phoenix and gilded it, perhaps my last gilding project!

The Housemothers room.  The best room in Sycamores, with  new Wilton carpet.
05/19/2014

The Housemothers room. The best room in Sycamores, with new Wilton carpet.

Timeline Photos
02/24/2014

Timeline Photos

02/24/2014

Joseph Brodsky, Mount Holyoke's only Nobel laureate, was featured along with some of the other great Russian poets and authors in the closing ceremony of the Olympics in Sochi, Russia this evening. Brodsky won the Nobel prize in 1987 while living in Rawson House, now attached to Sycamores here in South Hadley.

Bob Boisvert, master mason, and his friend and helper, Diane, beside his newly constructed reproduction of an 18th C fir...
02/09/2014

Bob Boisvert, master mason, and his friend and helper, Diane, beside his newly constructed reproduction of an 18th C fireplace with preliminary woodwork in place.

Completed today.  Bob works very rapidly.
02/05/2014

Completed today. Bob works very rapidly.

Sycamores House's cover photo
01/13/2014

Sycamores House's cover photo

Address

28 Woodbridge St
South Hadley, MA
01075

Opening Hours

Sunday 13:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(413) 534-0487

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