History in spring in the Berkshire region

While some local historic sites retire for the winter, others dress up for the holidays, host winter events and open their grounds and fields to walkers, winter birders, snowshoers and skiers.




African American Trail — A program of the Housatonic Heritage to celebrate African Americans. In the Berkshire region, AfricanAmericanTrail.org — in Vermont, historicsites.vermont.gov/vt_history/african_americans

Ashley House — Site on the African American Heritage trail tells the story of Elizabeth Freeman, who sued for her freedom in 1781, helping to end slavery in Massachusetts. Outdoor exhibit on Freeman’s life and legacy and grounds open daily, year-round, for self-guided tours. 117 Cooper Hill Road, Sheffield. 413-298-3239, ext. 3013, thetrustees.org

Arrowhead — Historic house where Herman Melville wrote “Moby-Dick” open for candle-light evening events. Grounds open free with walking trails. Home of the Berkshire Historical Society. 780 Holmes Road, Pittsfield. 413-442-1793. mobydick.org

Becket Land Trust — Becket historic quarry and trails. Quarry Museum and self-guided tour of nature preserve and 100 years of history. Trails open in daylight hours year round. Quarry off Route 20, 456 Quarry Road, Becket. Mullen House off-site exhibits and office at 12 Brooker Hill Road (corner Route 8), North Becket Village. becketlandtrust.org. 413-623-2100

Bidwell House Museum — Colonial history museum and historic 1760s house. Antiques, early farm and garden tools, wooded trails. Museum gardens and grounds — 192 acres of woods, fields, historic stone walls — open all year, free. 100 Art School Road, Monterey. 100 Art School Road, Monterey, 413-528-6888, bidwellhousemuseum.org.

Bryant Homestead — Boyhood home and later summer retreat of American poet, abolitionist, conservationist and editor William Cullen Bryant. House open for holiday events. Rivulet Trail to old-growth trees, fields and sugarbush and stream in Bryant’s 1823 poem. Grounds open free year-round. 207 Bryant Road, Cummington. National Historic Landmark. Trustees of Reservations, 413-532-1631 ext. 3110, thetrustees.org

Crane Papermaking Museum — Drop-in papermaking artspace and museum on the history of a local industry on the campus of Crane & Co., off Route 9, Dalton. 413-684-6380.

Hancock Shaker Village — Living history museum open for events and trails open year-round. 20 historic buildings with demonstrations and interpreters, open on early December weekends for holiday events. Routes 20 and 41, Pittsfield. 413-443-0188. hancockshakervillage.org

The Mount — Grounds open daily, free, dawn to dusk. Historic Gilded-Age home of Pulitzer prizewinning novelist Edith Wharton opens May 14 for the summer season with tours of the house, exhibits, sculpture and gardens. 2 Plunkett St., Lenox. 413-511-5111, edithwharton.org

North Adams Museum — History and science exhibits from American Indian art, immigration, World Wars to local businesses, railroads, politics  and ballooning. Fort Massachusetts barracks room replica with film, models, diary excerpts from Chaplain Rev. John Norton, an eye witness to the 1746 siege; black light gallery, topographical map. Open Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. History and Science Building 5A, Western Heritage Gateway State Park, Route 8, North Adams, 413-664-4700, northadamshistory.org

Sheffield Historical Society — Old Stone Store with rotating exhibits. Holiday market with local art, craft and food, weekends through December. 159 to 161 Main St., Sheffield. Dan Raymond House Museum and Mark Dewey Research Center. 413-229-2694, sheffieldhistory.weebly.com

Ventfort Hall —  Gilded age mansion decked for the holidays through Jan. 13. Tours on the hour, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Saturday and through 2 p.m. Sunday, including Dec. 24 and Jan. 31. 104 Walker St., Lenox. 413-637-3206, gildedage.org

Western Gateway — Former railway yard tells the story of the Hoosac railway tunnel. Western Gateway Heritage State Park, Visitors Museum, 115 State St., North Adams, 413-663-6312.

Williamstown History Museum — Historical exhibits free and open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. History talks, children’s discovery room and research center. In Milne Public Library, 1095 Main St., Williamstown. (413) 458-2160, williamstownhistory.org.

W.E.B. DuBois Center— The Du Bois Center at Great Barrington’s new Museum of Civil Rights Pioneers. Hours— weekends, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 684 Main St., Great Barington; DuBoisCenterGB.org.

W.E.B. Du Bois Homesite— National Historic Site, Boyhood home of the internationally acclaimed Civil Rights leader, scholar, activist and writer known for “Souls of Black Folk” and other works, who was born and raised in Great Barrington and returned there frequently over the course of his long life. Half-mile long interpretive trail, open to the public from dawn to dusk, leads to the foundation of his boyhood home and tells the story of his life and legacy. Route 23, just west of Route 71. duboishomesite.org.


Southern Vermont


Bennington Historical Society — Meeting and local history talk 2 p.m. third Sundays monthly, Bennington Museum. Route 9, Bennington, Vt.

Dollhouse and Toy Museum — Collection of dollhouses, from a simple cape cod house to elaborate Victorian houses, trains and trucks. Open 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday afternoons year round. 212 Union St., Bennington, Vt. dollhouseandtoymuseumofvermont.com

Dorset Historical Society — Holiday exhibit with trees, gifts, music and food of four eras. Historic displays into early 2017: Heavy Metal: Blacksmiths and Foundries of Dorset; Images of Prentiss Pond; The Dorset Trail’s creation, development, decline and recent rediscovery; Jessica Bond (1908 – 2001): Reverse Painting on Glass; Huntington Pratt Gilbert (1876 – 1962) Photographer, images from an egg farmer who lived on the West Road and took out his camera a few days every year and photographed everyday activities in Dorset. Fenton stoneware, paintings by Dorset artists, Marble Gallery on 130 years of quarrying, hauling, and finishing marble in Dorset and East Dorset for buildings including the Old Customs House in Erie, Penn., and the New York Public Library. Hours 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Route 30 at Kent Hill Road, Dorset, Vt. 802-867-0331, dorsetvthistory.org

Hildene — Mansion of Robert Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln: Robert and Mary’s home, goat dairy at Hildene Farm, Pullman car Sunbeam and about 12 miles of walking trails open year-round for hiking, snowshoeing and winter birding. 1005 Hildene Road off Route 7A, Manchester, Vt. 802-362-1788, hildene.org


New York 


Columbia County Historical Society — 100th anniversary year. Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse c. 1850, whose schoolmaster may have inspired the character in Wahsington Irving’s story, and Lukyas Van Alen House c. 1737, a house museum representing 18th-century rural Dutch farm life in the Hudson River Valley, at 2589 Route 9; James Vanderpoel House c. 1819 with paintings from the collection, at 16 Broad St.; museum and library with galleries of changing exhibitions, a research library and reading room at 5 Albany Ave., Kinderhook, N.Y. cchsny.org


At the top, Hildene, Robert Lincoln’s house in Manchester, Vt., wears a dusting of snow. Photo courtesy of Hildene.