The Bidwell House Museum, the Berkshires’ own colonial history museum, located in Monterey, Massachusetts, is marking 25 years of welcoming visitors to the historic homestead and grounds this year. The 1750s house on 192 acres of fields, gardens and forest tells the story of the early settlement of the Berkshires. It was the home of the Reverend Adonijah Bidwell, first pastor to the pioneer community. The museum opens for the season on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25th. Tours are offered Thursdays through Mondays from 11 am to 4 pm on the hour.
It was 25 years ago that last private owners Jack Hargis and David Brush’s wish to turn the lovingly restored house and exquisite collection into a museum for the community and for visitors from near and far became a reality. Thanks to the stewardship of the museum leaders and the generosity and support of the community, the museum thrives today, celebrating the 265-year history of the house and town. The museum is planning anniversary events all year long to celebrate this gift of history, culture and open-space landscape.
Twenty five years is a mere blink measured by the almost 300 years of stories the museum tells about the founding and early life of the southern Berkshires. For a non-profit organization, however, a quarter century is a major milestone. It confirms the importance of the museum’s contribution to the story of the Berkshires and its historic significance. This is something to celebrate!
Special people made the museum happen: Foremost are the founding board members, Bill Brockman, Jack Jefferson and David Walker-Price. They incorporated, organized and led the museum in its first decade. Their foresight laid the foundation for a successful ongoing enterprise in a most unusual spot: in the middle of the forest, far off the nearest paved road and miles from the nearest village. This remoteness is part of the museum’s appeal: a visit is an authentic experience of 18th century life.
How will the museum celebrate a quarter century of history? Special events include the Opening Concert and Reception on Sunday, May 24th at 3 p.m. Beloved vocal artist Diane Taraz has designed a program specially for the Bidwell House: “Tickle Me Fancy!” Diane’s theme explores what made people giggle in 1642, what tickled their funny bone in 1776, and what left them rolling in the aisles in 1847. Diane will sing and play guitar and lap dulcimer. Refreshments and good cheer guaranteed.
Township No. 1 Day, the museum’s free community celebration of local history, will take place on Friday, July 3, from 1 to 4 p.m., the first day of the Independence Day holiday weekend. Visitors are invited to explore historic crafts, meet colonial re-enactors, and enjoy live music, games and treats.
A lecture, workshop and walk series will include famed naturalist and author Tom Wessels and Yale History Professor John Demos. Program details can be found on the museum’s website: www.bidwellhousemuseum.org.
Saturday, August 15th is the date of the 25th Anniversary Gala Garden Party. Live music, delectable hors d’oeuvres, good company and good cheer will abound, all to benefit the historic house and grounds.
Plan a visit to the 18th century this summer!