By Anne Cathcart
As you weather these cold winter months, start planning your summer excursions! Berkshire sites are accepting group tour reservations now and can work with your party, small or large, to plan a unique experience. Here are just five interesting historic sites that capture the distinct, fascinating lives of the many iconoclasts who have called the Berkshires home.
Reverend Adonijah Bidwell’s 1750s colonial home in bucolic Monterey is a must-see! With authentic furnishings, an heirloom vegetable garden and 192 acres of fields and forest, Bidwell House Museum captures how many early settlers lived in the Berkshires. Be sure to check out the kitchen and its large collection of tools! Kids and adults will be entertained. They will work with you to plan a unique tour just for your group.
Explore 18 historic Shaker buildings, including the iconic Round Stone Barn. Hancock Shaker Village houses the world’s premier collection of Shaker artifacts in authentic room settings. Costumed artisans demonstrate woodworking, blacksmithing, textiles and Shaker cooking. 750 acres of farm, woodland and pasture, over 6 miles of hiking trails. Eat at the Village Harvest Café or inquire about a special Shaker Supper for your group!
At Arrowhead, literary buffs will enjoy touring the home of Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick. Learn how the “sea-feeling” of the Berkshires helped inspire Melville and tour the 18th century farmhouse where he wrote his epic tale. Arrowhead is also the home of the Berkshire Historical Society.
The summer estate of Daniel Chester French (1850-1931), sculptor of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial, is one of the hidden gems of the Berkshires. Be the first to see French’s newly rehabilitated studio, tour the nine-bedroom residence, and explore the formal and woodland walks throughout this 122-acre estate. Discover how contemporary artists continue to be inspired by French. Groups can picnic, order lunch, or request a private wine and cheese party on the Studio’s piazza, overlooking Monument Mountain.
Built only a few years after Chesterwood, acclaimed author Edith Wharton’s The Mount epitomizes the Gilded Age in the Berkshires with its extraordinary gardens and beautiful Italianate home. Fans of The House of Mirth and Wharton’s other stories, as well as new audiences, can enjoy ghost or garden tours, Jazz on the Terrace, and more unique offerings. Plan a memorable day at The Mount…or ask how The Mount can come to you!
Any group looking to plan a tour centered around history and heritage should have the Berkshires on their itinerary. You will not be disappointed.
Anne Cathcart is the Associate Manager of Collections & Programs at Chesterwood.