Place:Great Barrington, Berkshire, Massachusetts, United States

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NameGreat Barrington
Alt namesKenuckpacooksource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS25000189
Westenhucksource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS25000189
TypeTown
Coordinates42.183°N 73.35°W
Located inBerkshire, Massachusetts, United States
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Great Barrington is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 7,104 at the 2010 census. Both a summer resort and home to Ski Butternut, Great Barrington includes the villages of Van Deusenville and Housatonic. It is the birthplace of W. E. B. Du Bois. In 2012, Smithsonian magazine ranked Great Barrington #1 in its list of "The 20 Best Small Towns in America".

Contents

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

1676–1995

The Mahican Indians called the area Mahaiwe, meaning "the place downstream". It lay on the New England Path, which connected Fort Orange near Albany, New York, with Springfield and Massachusetts Bay.

The first recorded account of Europeans in the area happened in August 1676, during King Philip's War. Major John Talcott and his troops chased a group of 200 Mahican Natives west from Westfield, eventually overtaking them at the Housatonic River in what now Great Barrington. According to reports at the time, Talcott's troops killed twenty-five Indians and imprisoned another twenty.[1] Today, a plaque for John Talcott marks the spot where the massacre is believed to have happened.

On April 25, 1724 Captain John Ashley of Westfield, Massachusetts bought on behalf of himself and a committee of the Massachusetts General Court the land that became the towns of Great Barrington, Sheffield, Egremont, Alford, Mount Washington, and Boston Corner for £460, three barrels of "sider," and thirty quarts of rum from 21 Native American sachems headed by Conkepot Poneyote. The Konkapot River in southwestern Massachusetts is named after him.

The village was first settled by colonists in 1726 and from 1742–1761 was the north parish of Sheffield. In 1761, it was officially incorporated as Great Barrington, named after the village of Barrington, Gloucestershire, England.

In the summer of 1774, 1,500 men shut down the Berkshire County Court in response to British oppression. In the winter of 1776, Henry Knox passed through Great Barrington while transporting the cannon from Fort Ticonderoga to the Siege of Boston. Due to his time in the area, he established an agricultural interest in the area of Great Barrington.

With the arrival of the railroad in the late 19th century, Great Barrington developed as a Gilded Age resort community for those seeking relief from the heat and pollution of cities. Wealthy families built grand homes called Berkshire Cottages here, as others would in Lenox and Stockbridge.

Among the earliest estates was that built by New York City banker, industrialist and art patron David Leavitt, who built an elaborate estate, and was soon followed by those of his sons nearby. Leavitt was instrumental in the development of the local Housatonic Railroad, serving as its president.

Later estates included Searles Castle, commissioned in 1888 by the widow of Mark Hopkins together with her second husband, Edward Francis Searles, and "Brookside", built for William Hall Walker. In 1895, Colonel William L. Brown, part owner of the New York Daily News, presented Great Barrington with a statue of a newsboy, now a landmark on the western edge of town.

W. E. B. Du Bois

Great Barrington is the birthplace of W. E. B. Du Bois, an African-American academic and civil rights activist, most known for being one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868, at a house later replaced by where present-day Route 23 would run. As a child, Du Bois attended the Congregational Church. Many of these church members donated the funds needed for Du Bois to attend college. Du Bois lived in the town until he was seventeen.[2] The W.E.B. Du Bois Boyhood Homesite has interpretive trails and a walking tour.

World's first alternating current/transformer system

In November 1885 electrical engineer William Stanley, Jr., a sometime Great Barrington resident working for George Westinghouse, began installing a demonstration transformer based alternating current lighting system. Stanley felt AC was an improvement over the direct current system being used by Thomas Edison, and Stanley was trying to get Westinghouse to adopt it. Stanley had developed a series transformer that he thought would make AC practical. He built his components at the "Old Rubber Factory" south of Cottage Street and installed a Westinghouse steam engine powering a 500 volt Siemens generator. Stringing the power lines from tree to tree down the street, in March 1886 Stanley powered the system up and was able to expand it to the point where it could light 23 businesses along Main Street with very little power loss over . The system's 500 AC volt current was stepped down to 100 volts using the new Stanley transformer to power incandescent lamps at each location. This was the world's first practical demonstration of a transformer/alternating current system and the basis of the AC systems that Westinghouse would begin installing later that year.

Alice's Restaurant

Arlo Guthrie's song "Alice's Restaurant," which runs for minutes, is based on true-life events of the late 20th century in Great Barrington and the adjoining towns of Stockbridge and Lee. The Old Trinity Church, which was the home of Ray and Alice Brock at the time of these incidents, and is now owned by Guthrie, is at 4 Van Deusenville Road in Great Barrington.


Recent history

On October 18, 1990, Richard Stanley purchased the old Miller Hotel, also known as the Barrington House. Stanley started to upgrade the building, evicting tenants who had been involved in drugs. He removed the 1960s aluminum facade and returned the historic building through renovation to its 1929 appearance.

The town was the site of an F4 tornado around 7:00 PM on Memorial Day, May 29, 1995. The tornado killed three people and caused damage in the area.

On November 15, 1995, Richard Stanley and Joseph Wasserman opened The Triplex Cinema in the heart of Great Barrington. This contributed to further developments in the town, changing the economy and enhancing its desirability by providing a place for community events. With increased appeal as a destination, the town attracted new restaurants and retail shops, which opened on both Main Street and Railroad Street. Both streets previously had many vacant shops. The Berkshire Eagle reported that Great Barrington had 50 places to eat in a town of 7,700 people.

On July 24, 2009, Great Barrington was named an Appalachian Trail Community by application and acceptance by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.


On June 1, 2010, a new fire station was opened for the Great Barrington Fire Department, located on Route 7. The new fire station replaced the old one, located on Castle Street. It had deteriorated and was too small for the growing needs of the fire department. The new $9.1 million facility was planned as a center for community events such as elections. It serves as the hub for emergency operations in southern Berkshire County.[3]

The town celebrated its 250th anniversary with a large parade on July 10, 2011. Other events celebrating the 250th anniversary were held throughout the year as well.

The "Main Street Reconstruction Project" was launched in 2011, involving major improvements along Main Street between Saint James Place and Cottage Street. The plan elements include new pavement, new sidewalks, sewer and utility improvements, and the removal of the large trees that span Main Street, to be replaced with a much wider array of trees of varying sizes and growth habits. The project had finished its design phase as of 2012, and construction was to be completed in 2016.

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