The derelict motel, the roofless barn, the overgrown picnic area—we’ve all driven past such sites and felt a twinge of lamentation, a sigh for when these places represented life, livelihoods, hope, beginnings. The five-person brain trust behind Tourists, opening this summer in North Adams, Massachusetts, has reimagined this lament as a call to action: what if we reanimated not only a little roadside hostelry but, also, the greater community of which it is a part?
On the westbound side of Route 2, the old Mohawk Trail, there stood for many years a faded sign bearing the word TOURISTS—a remnant of the adjacent 1813 farmhouse’s past life as a rooming house. The sign, which has just been restored, provided inspiration. “We wanted to reclaim the word ‘tourist’ from the pejorative image of the tacky guy in the Hawaiian shirt,” says Eric Kerns, the group’s project manager. Kerns and his partners—the developer Ben Svenson, Brooklyn Magazine founder Scott Stedman, the chef Cortney Burns, and the musician and Wilco bassist John Stirratt—have purchased the farmhouse and a small motor inn up the road, as well as 55 acres of property along the north and south banks of the Hoosic River, in a subsection of North Adams known as Blackinton. Read more >>