Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What We've Been Up To

It’s been a busy year at the Pitt House and in the out buildings.

For a couple of years we’d noticed sinking in that part of the barn that connects its two portions. Water coming off the mountain in back had weakened the foundation under that section. Ken Shearer and TK got under the floor and restored a firm foundation.

Over the winter our caretaker/tenant, Fred Burrington, has installed a new sheetrock ceiling to cover the deteriorating plaster in the Pitt House breakfast room. He has repaired cracks in the plaster walls and is prepared to paint the room in its original color.

Electrician James Slowinski installed a much-needed fan and ceiling light in the Stacy Barn, as well as outside lights on the Stacy and the main barn so that we won’t have to feel out way out of evening meetings in the dark. Since Fred had reinforced the ceiling in the Crocker Abbey, we were able to move a collection of doors and house shutters out of the barn attic and into the Abbey attic, freeing space in the barn for the storage of documents in cupboards removed from Memorial Hall.

The curatorial committee is nearing the end of inventorying those documents (it’s taken just two years so far) into conservation boxes so that they will be safe and more easily retrievable in future.

You may have noticed that neither the Pitt House nor the barns have been open to the public recently. The work on the foundation and on the breakfast room, as well as inventory work done in the dining room, have left both buildings in temporary disarray. We do hope to be open again by 2017. There will, however, be an exhibit open to the public in the front room of the barn the second Sunday afternoon in June, July and August.


After Ken Shearer and TK had lifted the south end of the connecting portion of the barn, it became apparent that the north end of that portion was now in need of a lift. That will be a priority for the coming season.

The back of the Pitt House is in need of paint. We hope to be able to get a crew from the Franklin County Jail to do that work for just the cost of paint and supplies.

And inventorying the collection continues.

(Article from Historical Notes 2016: Newsletter of the Colrain Historical Society, published April, 2016.)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Rise and Fall of Penn Station

In 2016 the Colrain Historical Society celebrates the 120th anniversary of the Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway with a season-long focus on transportation in Colrain’s history. But our first program on Thursday, April 14 is a tip of the (conductor’s) hat to another anniversary – 50 years of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Penn Station in 1911. Photo source: Wikimedia Commons.
For Thursday’s program we’ll show the PBS documentary film “The Rise and Fall of Penn Station,” which tells the story of building the magnificent terminal of the Pennsylvania Railroad in New York City in 1910. But just 53 years after the station’s opening, the building was demolished. The heartbreaking loss inspired the city to establish the Landmarks Preservation Commission, sparing Grand Central Terminal a similar fate. Larger than that, it sparked the modern preservationist movement, culminating with the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966.

For any town grappling with the fate of its remaining historic structures and character, this film serves as a great conversation-starter. It will be shown at 7:30 p.m. in the Stacy Barn behind the Pitt House at 8 Main Road in Colrain. The program, which follows a business meeting at 7:00, is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For more information call Belden at 624-3453.