Sunday, April 28, 2024

Program: Griswoldville, The Grand Plan

Thursday, May 9th at 7:30pm in the Stacy Barn, located at the Colrain Museum of History, 8 Main Road, Colrain

A photo from the report. 
The view is from High St. looking North toward St. John’s Church and Church St. on the right, and on the left is the canal, Main Road (Rt. 112), an apartment building, a house, and the covered bridge crossing the North River at the start of Adamsville Rd.

The May program at the Colrain Historical Society will be a photographic journey through the village as far North as the Willis Place block as it was in 1920. The Griswold Manufacturing Company commissioned a Boston firm to develop a plan to improve and expand life in the village. A book with black and white photos and the grand plan was presented to the company.

The plan outlined where to put athletic fields, tennis courts, swimming pool and lockers. It mentioned the locker area could be small as only men would be swimming- this was 1920! The pictures to be shown from the book are one of a kind and show the entire village with the ideas for improvements, including sidewalks, shrubs and tree planting. They suggest painting all the houses lovely pastel colors.

Of the multitude of suggestions in this plan not one thing happened. Years ago the book was pulled from the trash at the mill and eventually found its way to the Historical Society.

The program in the Stacy Barn, Thursday, May 9, at 7:30 p.m following the business meeting at 7pm is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The report was prepared by a landscape architect from Boston named Bremer W. Pond.

Photocopy of the report cover

Photo of Bremer Whidden Pond

Biography of Bremer Whidden Pond

Thursday, March 21, 2024

A Spring Greeting, 1902

This whimsical spring greeting card was fashioned with real pussy willows in 1902 - back when pussy willows bloomed in April.

We think the artist, K.E.B., was Katherine Ellen Burke Bardwell, because this card is among a stash of Bardwell papers in the Colrain Historical Society’s extensive collection. Born in 1878 and married to William Bardwell, she is buried in Arms Cemetery in Shelburne Falls.

There have been Bardwells in Colrain since the late 1700s, some of them prominent.

Elias Bardwell, from A History of Colrain, Massachusetts by Lois McClellan Patrie, Genealogy section, page 12.

Elias Bardwell, an early settler in southeast Colrain, was the son of Gideon Bardwell, Sr. of Montague. Katherine Ellen Burke Bardwell’s husband, William Allen Bardwell, was a great great grandson of Gideon  Bardwell, Sr., but descended through a line of Shelburne Bardwells. Elias’ brother Gideon Bardwell, Jr. (William’s great grandfather) was an early Shelburne settler.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Historical Notes 2024

The Spring 2024 edition of Historical Notes, the newsletter of the Colrain Historical Society, will be mailed soon.

Click on the photos of the pages below to view a larger image.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Memorial Hall

If you grew up in Colrain before, say, the 1980s, chances are you graduated proudly from eighth grade across from the Post Office in Memorial Hall. And maybe you learned to square dance there. For most of the 20th century, Memorial Hall was the social center of Colrain. The Grange met in meeting rooms upstairs and held well-attended suppers. It was home to the local posts of the American Legion and the VFW. Nationally-known entertainers, local minstrel shows and entertainments with local musicians drew audiences there from around Franklin County and southern Vermont.

The Women’s Relief Corps, founded in 1886 as auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, raised funds with suppers, dances, bake sales and quilt auctions to build Veteran’s Memorial Hall to honor the 198 men of Colrain who fought in the Civil War. Completed in 1895 for $6,000, the structure included an “audience hall” on the first floor with a large stage, and dressing rooms in the basement. Upstairs, the GAR held their meetings in the “post room,” and ladies gathered by the fireplace in the “parlor” near the kitchen.

By 2011, when the town celebrated its 250th anniversary, Memorial Hall was empty and abandoned. Efforts by the town to sell the building failed, and the structure was demolished in 2013 at a cost of about $60,000.

(The site is now the home of the less attractive but useful "Hub" for our municipal broadband network.)