Step back in time to the 18th century with a visit to the lovingly restored Bidwell House Museum. This living piece of pre-colonial, Berkshire history is located in Monterey, MA, just 20 minutes from our Stockbridge bed and breakfast.
At first glance, the location of the Bidwell House seems strangely remote. The elegant, multi-story, Georgian saltbox is situated on nearly 200 acres, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Would you believe that, when the house was built in the 1760’s, it was actually near a busy intersection in the center of town? It’s true!
This historic Berkshires house museum is also unique in that it is not a Gilded Age mansion or famous person’s home. Instead, it began as a relatively humble parsonage.
A Bit Of History
The Bidwell House was built in the mid 1760’s as a parsonage for the Reverend Adonijah Bidwell (1716-1784), first minister of Housatonic Township No. 1. The original property included a 60 acre estate and stayed in the Bidwell family until 1853.
The building saw a number of tenants and uses after the departure of the Bidwells. First it was another family’s home, then a lumber company base of operations, then an Art School faculty house. By the 1950s, the house had acquired the name “Deepwood Manse” and was in a steep decline of disrepair.
In 1960, Jack Hargis and David Brush, two New York fashion designers, saw the house and decided to rescue it. After the sale was complete, the two immediately set to work restoring the house to it’s 18th century condition. The 25 year long restoration included populating the house with period furnishings. Luckily they had Reverend Bidwell’s historic probate inventory as a guide.
In 1990, via David Brush’s death request, the house became a historic house museum.
Visiting Bidwell House
Visitors to the Bidwell House Museum will see an 18th century Georgian saltbox style home surrounded by stone walls, lush gardens, and acres of fields and woods.
Guided tours of the former parsonage provide a rare glimpse of middle class life in 18th century Berkshires. The tours are docent led and very informative, including both floors of the house. Bidwell House tours are available seasonally, Memorial Day to October, and must be reserved in advance.
Bidwell House is worth a visit even if the museum is closed. That’s because the gorgeous grounds, with their terraced gardens and forested trails, are open dawn to dusk, all year ’round. In winter, people ski and snowshoe the property.
You can also take a self-guided walk along the Native American Interpretive Trail. This fascinating trail tells of the Stockbridge Mohicans, who lived in this area for thousands of years.
Bidwell House Museum
The Bidwell House Museum is located at 100 Art School Road in Monterey, MA. This is less than a half hour from the door of Berkshires bed and breakfast, The Inn at Stockbridge.
The museum hosts a variety of special events throughout the year. These include living history events with fully costumed interpreters, demonstrations, and more.