♦Welcome to the Bidwell House Museum♦

The Keeping room table set up for a meal.

The Keeping room table set up for a meal.

The sun is finally shining at The Bidwell House Museum and we can’t wait to show you around!  Working with our dedicated Collections Committee, we spent time in May pondering the many interesting and delightful objects in the house.  As we set up each room we tried to incorporate items that had not been recently on display while also creating an atmosphere where we hope Reverend Bidwell would feel right at home.   You can see his sermons on the writing desk in the Parlor or view the every day Redware in the Keeping room.  The rainy spring has “dampened” many outdoor activities but it also means the gardens are green and in full bloom.  Come take a tour, walk through the heritage garden and get immersed in life on a 1760s homestead!

A writing desk in the Parlor

A writing desk in the Parlor

Gary Leveille 7-1-17

History Talk: Massachusetts–New York Border “Wars” in the 1700s – July 1

Local Historian Gary Leveille explains how for decades—starting in the early 1700s—the elusive border between what is now eastern Columbia County, NY and western Berkshire County, MA was hotly disputed. The events that took place along this border changed the course of history. Dutch and English settlers on both sides of the line found themselves immersed in a political and economic struggle between the colonies of New York and Massachusetts.  In his presentation, Leveille explores this feud, beginning with the puzzling land acquisitions from Mohican Native Americans known as Spoor’s Grant and the Shawenon Purchase. The border dispute worsened as tenant farmers living in New York’s feudal-like system were encouraged by Massachusetts neighbors to declare allegiance with Massachusetts and become free land owners instead of just renters of their property.

The Bidwell House Museum History Talks are held at Tyringham Union Church, Main Road, Tyringham at 10 a.m. Suggested donation $15 per person, $10 for members of the museum.

Gary Leveille is a writer, editor, researcher, educator, photographer, and local historian who resides with his family in Great Barrington. He is the author of several books, including the best-selling photo history entitled Old Route 7 – Along the Berkshire Highway; Eye of Shawenon – A Berkshire History of North Egremont, Prospect Lake and the Green River Valley and his newest book Legendary Locals of the Southern Berkshires. He is also a columnist for The Berkshire Record, where he produces the popular “Then and Now” photo history column. Gary serves on the Great Barrington Historical Commission and as Archivist for the Great Barrington Historical Society

TOWNSHIP Bidwell-TownShip-Poster_2017NO. 1 DAY – JULY 8

Join us on Saturday July 8 from 1 to 4 p.m. for our FREE celebration of local history, Township No. 1 Day.  It will be fun for the whole family with live music from Moonshine Holler and The Adams Brothers, The Butler’s Rangers colonial reenactors, craft demonstrations, historical presentations, food and drink, a garden tour, a guided hike, kids crafts, a scavenger hunt and more.  Check back soon for a detailed schedule of events.


The Bidwell House Museum receives grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund!

The original saltbox roof line was exposed during construction this winter

The original saltbox roof line was exposed during construction this winter

The Bidwell House Museum is very pleased to announce that they are the recipient of a Capital Grant of $125,000 from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund.  This grant will allow the Museum to continue work on an extensive restoration project that began in 2016, which has included a new roof, new electrical work, new structural beams, appropriate insulation, masonry work and eventually accessibility improvements, items that are all essential for the long term preservation of the historic structure. Board President Rob Hoogs noted “We are very grateful to Mass. Cultural Council, Governor Charlie Baker, and our local representatives Smitty Pignatelli and Adam Hinds for their support and confidence.  This grant will help us enhance the museum’s visitor facilities and make the historic house universally accessible.”  The house is now open for the 2017 season, come see the work that has been completed so far!


Painting by Ron Goldfinger

The museum grounds with perennial and vegetable gardens, miles of stone walls and forested trails on 192 acres are open daily from dawn until dusk for hiking and nature watching. Parking, trail maps and picnic tables are available.   (Directions)

Stop by to take a look at the construction progress!

Great 2017 Programs for You

Get an introduction to birding, learn how archaeologists investigate the past, explore our local history at fascinating talks, enjoy music, crafts and reenactors at Township No. 1 Day, and so much more! Take a Look HERE


Bidwell House Museum Board Announces Appointment of New Executive Director

April 11, 2017, Monterey, Mass — Rob Hoogs, President of the Bidwell House Museum, the Berkshires’ Colonial history museum, announced today the appointment of Heather Kowalski as the new Executive Director of the museum, a 1760s historic house and gardens in Monterey, Mass. Effective May 1, Heather will take over the director position from Barbara Palmer, who has served the museum as executive director for the past seven and a half years.

Heather Kowalski“I am excited to welcome Heather Kowalski to this leadership role. Heather has served as the assistant to the executive director for the past one and half years,” stated Hoogs. “She brings excellent leadership, passion for education about historic houses, and terrific museum expertise to this position.” Heather worked previously at the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art, both in Pittsburgh PA, prior to relocating to the Berkshires.  Her husband Jesse Kowalski is Curator of Exhibitions at the Norman Rockwell Museum.

“At the same time, the board and I are very proud of Barbara Palmer on her appointment to be Associate Director for museum budget and operations at the Williams College Museum of Art,” noted Hoogs. “She has been a consummate professional and we have been very fortunate to have her as director for all these years.”

Barbara Palmer joined the board in congratulating Heather Kowalski. “I have worked closely with Heather, and I know the museum is in good hands,” she noted. “Heather has been instrumental in the restoration campaign, and she is bringing superb professional expertise to the museum.” Palmer also thanked the board: “I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead the Bidwell House and to build the museum’s education programs and public visibility. Moreover, I am incredibly proud of the Bidwell board and the whole community for the successful – and still ongoing – restoration campaign for the historic buildings. With Heather’s appointment and this caring community, I know the museum will rise to new heights.”

Prior directors and staff of the museum are serving in a number of cultural organizations around the country. Lisa Simpson, director of the Bidwell House Museum from 1992 to 1995 and as an interim director in 2000, is currently the director of the New Hampshire Boat Museum in Wolfeboro Falls, NH. Anita Carroll Weldon, director from 1996 to 2000, is director of the Horatio Colony House Museum and Nature Preserve in Keene, NH.  Joanna Jennings, assistant to the director from 2007 to 2010, is museum manager for the American Red Cross in Danville, NY. Closer by, Chris Caccamo, head docent and caretaker from 2007 to 2011, is now head gardener at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens in Stockbridge.  “The Bidwell House Museum has proven to be a fertile training ground for museum professionals,” Hoogs noted.

The Bidwell House will reopen for house tours after a grand opening reception and concert on May 28.  The grounds, gardens and four miles of trails are open for free year-round. The Bidwell House Museum is located on Art School Road in Monterey, a “country mile” off Tyringham Road.  The 1760s house is a National Register property with a collection of period furnishings, and it sits on 192 acres at the original center Township No. 1. Visitors to the museum can enjoy a personal encounter with history, early American home life, and the Berkshire landscape through its land, house and collection. The Museum is a private, member-supported non-profit educational institution for the benefit of the community and today’s audiences of all ages, dedicated to preservation, scholarship and enjoyment of the landmark site.


Spring has arrived at the Bidwell House

Thank you for supporting the Bidwell House Museum on Giving Tuesday and always! You can make a gift via Paypal by clicking on the “Donate” button at right.

Museum Restoration Project Progressing Well

The Board of Directors of the Bidwell House Museum is pleased to announce the awarding of a $50,000 matching grant, which is allowing the museum to carry out restoration work on the historic structure. The museum, which is listed in the State Register of Historic Places, has received a matching grant from the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund through the Massachusetts Historical Commission, Secretary of the Commonwealth, William Francis Galvin, Chairman. The museum is closing early this year in order to carry out the work.

Learn more HERE


Yellow cedar shingles going up on a custom breathing grid on the Bidwell roof


The rear Ell is getting the historically appropriate roof overhangs back, as well as a beautiful new cedar shingle roof! Thank you, Massachusetts Historical Commission and generous matching donors.

Support the Museum while doing your shopping on Amazon by going through Amazon Smile! Amazon will donate a portion of your purchases to the Museum. It’s easy: Click on the link above and begin shopping. You can bookmark the link to use it each time you shop. Thank you for helping the Bidwell House!


Honorees Dick and Barbara Tryon. Adonijah’s Birthday Party thank yous and lots more party photos here: Take a look!


Fall Newsletter article continued: Barnabas Bidwell, America’s William Wilberforce?


Board Member John Demos’ new book, The Heathen School, A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic, was reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on NPR. You can listen to that review here.

Also, click here to listen to John Demos discuss his book with Frank Sesno of NPR affiliate WAMU.


Thank you….

….for supporting the Bidwell House Museum at the Berkshire Summer Art School Garden Party! Take a look at the story and photos on Rural Intelligence….




Thank you for supporting the Bidwell House Museum. Your generosity allows the museum to thrive, and you are helping to protect the 1760s homestead and 192 acres of open space. Take a look at the story and photos of the Colonial Thanksgiving Party on Rural Intelligence.



 Enjoy the interpretive trail:

The Historic Berkshires: An 18th Century Trail


Take a look at the 7-31-12 Berkshire Eagle article about a 2012 intern project:

“Cracking the Code: Young History Scholar Deciphers 1759 Sermon”


To learn more about the forest management initiative
at the museum, please click here.