One of the things that sets the Berkshires apart is its depth of history. Here are ten spots that any history buff should make sure are on their next travel itinerary.
Discover Chesterwood, where the statue of Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial was created. Chesterwood was originally the home and studio of Daniel Chester French, one of America’s foremost public sculptor and his family. Today you can explore the gardens, tour his newly renovated studio and visit the home. Be sure to also take in the outdoor sculpture exhibits they have every summer and enjoy one of their outdoor concerts.
No visit to the Berkshires is complete without a trip to The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home. Visitors can experience the beauty of the property by taking a tour of the house and gardens.It is not only a historic house museum but also a vibrant cultural center offering literary lectures, live music and more. New for 2017 enjoy their exhibit which explores the relationship between the Wharton’s and other Cottagers (Westinghouse, Carnegie, Vanderbilt) with the town of Lenox.
Moby Dick was written right here in the Berkshires and you can see where it all happened at Herman Melville’s Arrowhead in Pittsfield. Take a step back in time by going on a tour of this property, start by touring the barn and the house which includes time in Melville’s studio and then continue outside where you can take a self-guided tour of the grounds and even meander Arrowhead’s Nature Trail.
Come and explore the history and culture of the Connecticut River Valley and early New England at Historic Deerfield. Here you will be educated about the lifestyles of the diverse people who lived here long ago and also learn about the process of preserving antique buildings and collections of regional furniture, silver, textiles, and other decorative arts. First settled in 1669, Deerfield is one of the few towns settled by English colonists along the eastern seaboard that retains its original scale and town plan.
The Homestead’s pastoral landscape, largely unchanged for more than 150 years, includes pastures, fields, maple sugar bush (that has been tapped for more than 200 years), and woodlands waiting for you to come and explore. Three different tours are offered from April through October and the Pine Loop features enormous pines that reach heights of 150 feet and stand among the tallest pines in the Northeast.
Newly updated both inside and out, this museum offers a great insight into the Colonial history of the Berkshires. Built circa 1750 for the first minister of Township No. 1, the Reverend Adonijah Bidwell, The Bidwell House is a gracious two-story post-and-beam Georgian saltbox which offers house tours as well hiking trails and 192 acres of beautiful grounds to explore.Come and explore what an early settlement of the Berkshires was like.
Did you know that Susan B Anthony was born in the Berkshires? Come and learn more at her childhood home. Explore where this pioneering feminist and suffragist, as well as a noteworthy figure in the abolitionist and temperance movements of the 19th-century, got her start. Visitors will have the opportunity to view Susan’s life at a glance, through a detailed timeline, complete with historical images.
The Berkshires has a rich African American heritage. This trail helps explore that as it takes you through 29 MA and CT towns and celebrates African Americans in the region who played pivotal roles in key national and international events, as well as ordinary people of achievement. Some highlights are W.E.B. Dubois boyhood homesite in Great Barrington and the Samuel Harrison House in Pittsfield.
Located just about 5 minutes outside of the Berkshires, plan a visit to Edna St Vincent Millay’s Steepletop. Take a step back in time as you visit the home of one of the most popular writers of the 20th century. Tour the house which still holds all of her possessions such as books and furniture as well as take the time to explore her studio and gardens and be sure to save time to meander the Poetry Trail.
The Ashley House tells the intertwined stories of the Ashleys and the enslaved African Americans who lived in the Berkshires in the 18th century. Mum Bett, who was enslaved in the Ashley House, helped end slavery in Massachusetts. In 1781, she sued Col. Ashley for her freedom and won. Mum Bett was and remains an inspiration to all who learn her story. A visit to this historic home is a must do in the Berkshires.