history

of  West Stockbridge

01266

West Stockbridge is both a typical and atypical Berkshire town. Located at the western gateway to the Berkshires, the area was settled in the 1670’s by Mohicans fleeing the aftermath of King Phillip’s War. Dutch traders from New York and later farmers from Connecticut, and eastern Massachusetts moved in and bought land from the Mohicans. Through the early colonial period, the community became more established —with a local church and tavern in the West Center area. By the mid 1770’s they petitioned the General Court to allow it to separate from the larger, more powerful Stockbridge Township.  The primary motivation was to keep their own tithing (taxes) and select their own preacher. By March of 1774, the General Court granted West Stockbridge its charter and become independent from the other Stockbridge.

The town has been an active participant in many of the major historic events, from Shay's Rebellion (one of the ringleaders allegedly recruited followers in a local tavern), to an early leader of the Mormon Church (Daniel Spencer, first mayor of Salt Lake City), through the Civil War (163 veterans out of 800 population). It has always been a blue collar, working town with iron, limestone and marble quarries driving town’s growth in the 19th century. Through the 1900-2000 period, the extractive industries closed. The town became a sleepy small town with an exit on the Mass. Pike, a drive-through on the way to other more popular cultural attractions. 

West Stockbridge has approximately 1,300 full time residents, many of whom trace their family roots back through multiple generations, and another 400 residents who are part time second homeowners. (These part time residents include many performers in Berkshire County’s world-renowned summer cultural events, including Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow and the Williamstown Theater Festival and Berkshire Theatre Group.) 
Since 2005, the town has gone through a rebirth. Concerts, theatre, art shows, lectures and author talks sponsored by the Historical Society at the restored Old Town Hall bring in over 2,500 visitors every year. The town also has several active arts venues,  such as Turn Park Art Space, drawing visitors from all over. West Stockbridge has become the quiet destination of cultural, scenic beauty without the crowds and glitz of our more well known neighboring towns. 

For more information, please contact each merchant directly. 

 

Or contact:

West Stockbridge Town Offices

21 State Line Road

West Stockbridge, MA 01266

413.232.0300

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West Stockbridge MA 01266

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Website by Jennifer Knopf + Flourish Market

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