♦Welcome to the Bidwell House Museum♦

The 2017 Season is in full swing at the Bidwell House Museum!  Come for a tour of the house, take a hike on the grounds, attend one of our many events or20170815_083228 wander through the lovely heritage garden.  On August 19th we will present the last History Talk of the summer with Bernard Drew.  In September we have a number of fun programs planned including a cemetery walk in Monterey and three Housatonic Heritage walks.   See below for more information about all of our upcoming programs.

History Talk:  Cuffee Negro, Berkshires’ First Black Real Estate Agent – August 19

The final Bidwell House Museum History Talk of the 2017 season will take place on Saturday, August 19 at 10 am.  Bernard A. Drew will tell the story of the most Bernie Drew 8-19-17unlikely of real estate speculators, Cuffee Negro, also known as Cuffee Van Schaack, who bought and sold land in Stockbridge and vicinity in the 18th century. He learned the trade—including a few dubious tricks—from his father, the Dutch fur trader Elias Van Schaack. Cuffee spoke Dutch, and was conversant enough in English and Mohican that he negotiated numerous property transactions. He was illiterate; he signed documents with a stick figure, an Indian clan mark. He died in 1763.

Bernard A. Drew and his wife, Donna, live in Great Barrington. He is a weekly newspaper editor and columnist for The Berkshire Eagle and The Lakeville Journal. He has written numerous reference books and Berkshire histories including books about Great Barrington, Monument Mountain, Lake Buel, Beartown, the Knox Trail and the 18th & 19th century waterpowered industry in the Upper Housatonic River Valley. His latest, expected this fall, is titled East Rock is Falling, about East Mountain and environs in Great Barrington.  He likes to explore the woods and find the unexpected in plain sight

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.

Gravestone Art in Monterey’s Old Cemeteries – September 9Adonijah Bidwell's Gravestone

Join us for a talk and walk with Historical Archaeologist Bob Drinkwater, an expert on New England tombstone carvers. Drinkwater will give a brief history of gravestone art and then lead a tour of Monterey’s historic cemeteries. Drinkwater is a charter member and past president of the Association for Gravestone Studies.   He holds an M.A. in Anthropology from UMass, Amherst.  Meet at the Bidwell House Museum. Members: $10. Non-members: $15. 10 a.m

Housatonic Heritage Walks – September 16, 23 and 30

IMG_5543The Bidwell House Museum is happy to host a series of FREE Housatonic Heritage Walks in September.  Each year the Upper Housatonic National Heritage Area invites residents and visitors to explore the natural beauty of the region and learn about local history through the archaeology, architecture and geology of the Berkshires and northern Connecticut.  The Bidwell House Museum will focus on the local landscape with three walks: Nature in Autumn, Camera Trapping: An Up Close Look at Wildlife and Tracing Native and Settler Histories on the Landscape.   All walks begin at 10 a.m and we ask that you wear sturdy shoes and bring water.  If you would like to pre-register for any of the walks contact the museum at bidwellhouse@gmail.com or 413-528-6888.

For more information on these walks and all of the Housatonic Heritage activities in September, see their brochure  HERITAGE WALKS 2017 BOOKLET  You can also go to the Housatonic Heritage website here

Our Summer Gala was a night to remember!

On August 5th, after a grey and stormy start to the day, the skies cleared just in time for our fundraising Gala at the Fiddletop estate in Monterey.  Supporters 2017 galafrom near and far enjoyed a beautiful late-afternoon poolside soiree with delicious bites by Marketplace and fun music by the O-Tones.   The view across the Monterey hills was divine!  The Museum is lucky to have such a dedicated group of friends who cheerfully donated to our education fund.

Thank you to our corporate sponsors: Brockman Real Estate, Foresight Land Services, Tryon Construction and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

History Talk:  Travels with Satan: Looking Back on Fifty Years as a Witchcraft Historian – July 29

John Demos 7-29-17On Saturday, July 29 at 10 a.m. award-winning historian John Demos will discuss the history of witchcraft and witch-hunting from the Middle Ages to the present day and his long engagement with the topic.

John Demos is the Samuel Knight Professor of American History Emeritus at Yale University and an award-winning author. His book Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England (1982) won the Bancroft Prize. He published The Enemy Within: A Short History of Witch-Hunting in 2008.  His book The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic was a 2014 National Book Award nominee

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.


History Talk: Native Americans in South County – July 15         Rene Wendell 7-15-17

On Saturday, July 15 at 10 am, Rene Wendell will discuss the local prehistoric evidence of Native American life and discuss the first contacts of white settlers with the Mohican tribe in South County. He will bring native artifacts from his personal collection.  Attendees are welcome to bring their own arrowheads for Rene to evaluate.

Rene Wendell spent 13 years working for the Trustees at Bartholomew’s Cobble leading many public nature based programs. He is currently the Land Steward for the Nature Conservancy out of Great Barrington where he helps to manage thousands of acres that TNC holds in Western Massachusetts.

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 museu


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.