Some of our history in the Berkshires is alive because we still use it every day, to make cheese or cider or a cup to drink it in. A third-generation family farm boils sap for maple syrup. Clapboard houses, slate roofs and summer mansions stand as solidly as the local marble Italian families came here to quarry a century ago.

Some we preserve. We grow herbs and walk trails. We rebuild and tell stories. And some of our history we are reviving in new ways. In a silo at Hancock Shaker Village, new music invokes Shaker hymns. The composer immersed himself in their melody and acoustics and drew on contemporary artists and technology to re-create them.

He is also the director of the Grammy-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth, which took its first steps (and half-steps) at Mass MoCA, where the boiler room holds the voices of people who worked in the mills.

Historic places in the Berkshires

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Arrowhead

Herman Melville and his family were living in the Berkshires, in a farmhouse in Pittsfield, while he wrote ‘Moby-Dick’ in the 1850s. From his desk, he could see the outline of Mount Greylock above the surrounding hills, and it reminded him of a sperm whale’s back in the water, when the whale came up to breathe.

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Field Farm

Nature and Modern art mingle at Field Farm in Williamstown. The Trustees of Reservations maintains the outoor sculpture garden and trails— open to the public from sunrise to sunset all year — and runs the house as a Bed and Breakfast, and they will open the Folly for art tours occasionally through the summer and fall.

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Lenox

Downtown Lenox has a flavor of old New England and contemporary art. Italian families worked Berkshire marble here not long ago, and a young black photographer left home to make his name in the Harlem Renaissance. And glimmering New York families came hear in early fall.

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MCLA

National and international figures come to visit the students at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, ranked in the top 10 public colleges in U.S. News and World Report and appears in U.S. News’ list of Top National Liberal Arts colleges.

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North Adams

Massachusetts’ smallest city at the foot of the state’s highest mountain is becoming an known around the world. It’s an old manufacturing town at the western edge of the Mohawk Trail. It’s a community reviving and adapting after many of the mills closed down. And today it’s the home of one of the largest contemporary art museums on the planet.

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Purgatory Road

In 2012, Joann Farrell and Betsy Nichols started an annual haunted corn maze at the Nichols’ Grey Goose Farm on Cleveland Road — to benefit teen suicide prevention. Their families have become volunteers and actors in each year’s Halloween scenario, and Berkshire organizations joined in.

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Red Lion Inn

The Red Lion Inn has stood centrally on Main Street since 1773, when it served as a stage coach between Boston and Albany. The old clapboard building has a history going back to the Revolution, and today it brings locals and visitors to its restaurants and shop of goods from local artists and artisans.

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The Mount

Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, wrote many of her best-known novels in this house, in the 10 years she lived in Lenox — from The House of Mirth to Ethan Frome. Her house is now a museum, a center of writing, music and performance, landscape and gardens, dedicated to keeping her spirit alive.

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Williams Inn

Walk through the park and cross the bridge over Hemlock Brook, and you’ll see a kind of courtyard in old New England forms. The buildings run together in red barn and clapboard and stone. And they are all new. The Williams Inn opened in its Spring Street incarnation in summer […]

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