Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Historic Northampton - A Wealth of Information, Fun to Visit!

In researching our famed “Tin Man of Goshen“, I had the opportunity to do some research at Historic Northampton. Seeking articles, photos and documentation about his early origins! I found the articles I was looking for and discovered a tremendous resource for research and history that was right under my nose.

I found the volunteers and staff to be helpful and friendly! The archives were organized it is clear that much time and energy has been dedicated to their preservation and organization. Materials were well documented and easily accessible. The computer software PastPerfect has been intergrated to Historic Northampton to help manage the archives. This software has also allowed Historic Northampton make collections available online for research and enjoyment. Click here for Online Research.

Over the last century, Historic Northampton has gathered a collection of approximately 50,000 objects. These objects include photographs and daguerreotypes, documents and manuscripts from the 17th to the 20th centuries, fine art, furniture, ceramics, glass, metals, toys, tools and implements, and an important collection of textiles and costumes. Together the collections represent the history of Northampton, and to some extent, the Connecticut River Valley, from the time of its earliest inhabitants, the Native Americans, to the present day.

At the time of my visit, the museum included a terrific Calvin Collidge exhibit and s collection of antique silk dresses from the turn-of-the-century. Current exhibits include A Place Called Paradise: The Making of Northampton, Massachusetts and A Well Regulated Militia: Northampton’s Citizen-Soldiers, 1676-1898.

A walking tour of the campus is wonderful. Historic Northampton constitutes a campus of three contiguous historic houses, all on their original sites. The grounds themselves are part of an original Northampton homelot, laid out in 1654

The Damon House (1813), built by architect, Isaac Damon, contains Historic Northampton’s administrative offices. A modern structure, added in 1987, houses the museum, gift shop and exhibition area. It features changing exhibits and a permanent installation, A Place Called Paradise: The Making of Northampton, Massachusetts, chronicling Northampton history.

Next Door, the Parsons House (1730) affords an overview of Colonial domestic architecture with its interior walls exposed to reveal evolving structural and decorative changes over more than two and a half centuries.

The Shepherd House (1796) is the headquarters of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

If you cannot make a trip to visit the lovely city of Northampton, Massachusetts and its awesome Historic Northampton, their web site includes Virtual Exhibits, Virtual Tours, reference shelf and tons of other online resources that you will enjoy!

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