♦Welcome to the Bidwell House Museum♦

20180122_143004Tucked away in the woods, the Bidwell House Museum has seen its share of snow, fog and rain this winter.  Despite the unpredictable weather, the staff at the museum are hard at work behind the seasons planning for the 2018 season.  Thought-provoking history talks, fun family tours, a country fair and live theater and music performances are all in the works.  First up is a lecture on March 3 by local Historian Bernie Drew.  Read on below for more information.

Bernard Drew 20172

East Rock is Falling – with Bernard A. Drew, March 3, 2018, 10 a.m. at the Monterey Community Center

Look past the snowy landscape and join Bernard A. Drew as he describes his research up mountaintops and around slopes, into basements, archives and newspaper files to pull together stories about East Mountain and environs in Great Barrington for his most recent 216-page book, East Rock Is Falling. Great Barrington’s East Rock was never in danger of falling, despite a joshing Boston Post reporter’s sensational article in 1906. The town’s eastern hills do, however, brim with dozens of true, if forgotten, stories; stories of geologist James Dwight Dana’s quartzite-schist discovery; George H. Kirchhoff’s prize Holstein Friesians; Jason Cooley’s faithful horse and Almira Cooley’s tasty baking; Henry F. Walling’s tripod signal tower for the area’s first USGS topographic map; counterfeiter Gill Belcher’s secret cave; H.F. Keith’s proposed observation tower; John Devanny’s firestone quarry; Eugene E. Peirce’s Bung Hill triangulation point for town boundary surveys; G-Bar-S Ranch skiers; and Civilian Conservation Corps trailblazers.

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.  East Rock is Falling is the third volume in the author’s trilogy that includes Faded Tracks on Monument Mountain and Bear Town Mountain. Other previous works include Henry Knox and the Revolutionary War Trail in Western Massachusetts and Gibson’s Grove & Turner’s Landing.

IMG_5543Don’t forget, the grounds and gardens are open all year!  You can take a hike on the trails or wander through the lovely heritage garden. We have a detailed trail map to help you find your way.  You can always find copies of the map on our porch or download a copy 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.

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!

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


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!


 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.