Wednesday, February 5, 2020

In My Footsteps: Stockbridge, Massachusetts

     Nestled in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts is Stockbridge. It combines the feel of a quaint mountain town with amazing scenery loads of history and spectacular attractions into one of the gems of New England.

     Initially called Indian Town when first settled in 1737 it was incorporated in 1739 and named Stockbridge after a town in Hampshire, England. As of 2015 the population of Stockbridge was only 1,846 laid out over 23-square miles. This mixed in with the rolling hills makes this every bit a small town. Yet it is a hugely popular destination especially in summer.

     Despite being surrounded and engulfed by the Berkshire Hills one cannot begin a visit to Stockbridge without going to the Norman Rockwell Museum. The famed 20th century artists used the town as an inspiration for his illustrations. Though he was born in New York City in 1894 Rockwell moved to Stockbridge in 1953 and lived out his remaining years there. The museum which bares his name was founded in 1969 and includes more than 100,000 items of which 998 are original paintings and drawings. Rockwell’s studio was also moved to the site and is open from May to October while the museum is the most popular year-round attraction in town.

     To enjoy scenery and solitude there are a pair of attractions located close to each other. The Naumkeag Mansion is the centerpiece of an estate once owned by New York City lawyer Joseph Choate. The 44-room mansion is part of a 48-acre property with panoramic views and was built in 1884. It is open except for January, February, and March. Located less than half a mile from Naumkeag is The National Shrine of the Divine Mercy. The Roman Catholic shrine resides on 350-acres and was first opened in 1960. It welcomes tens of thousands of people annually whether worshipers or those who simply wish to take in the beautiful scenery.

The scenery at Eden Hill, National Shrine of the Divine Mercy

     When looking for shopping, dining, and lodging options one only needs to venture down to Stockbridge’s famed Main Street. One destination must be The Red Lion Inn. Today it is an 82-room iconic hotel that has been in operation in one form or another since 1773. From Presidents Cleveland, McKinley, Coolidge, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, to celebrities like John Wayne and Bob Dylan, it is a place to say one stayed as much as it is a place to stay.  

The Red Lion Inn

     A stroll along Main Street allows you to pass by longtime shops like Williams & Sons Country Store, established in the 1790’s, Main Street Cafe, and Stockbridge General Store. Or stroll down the alley next to the General Store to visit Theresa’s Stockbridge Cafe, formerly known as Alice’s Restaurant, made famous by the Arlo Guthrie song in 1967.

     Located 130 miles from Boston, 70 miles from Hartford, and 140 miles from New York City Stockbridge is an escape that is not far away. Beautiful in the winter snow or the blooming spring flowers it is never a bad time to check out this quaint town in the Berkshire Hills immortalized by Norman Rockwell’s art.

Check out a video of some of Stockbridge’s attractions here:

If You Go:

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