GB historical group seeks town support

To the editor:

Where's a good historian when you need one? When you want to know more about the oldest church building on Main Street? Or the credentials of the original Searles High School architect? Or details about Great Barrington's Main Street a hundred years ago? These and many other questions about the past have come up in community conversations during the past year, and experienced local historians from the Great Barrington Historical Society have been close-at-hand to give answers.

Members of the Great Barrington Historical Society help in any way they can to make sure today's generation better understands why a certain road goes the way it does, or a particular structure was built in just that location. In fact, we've been preserving history and educating people about it for 40 years!

Since 2007, the Historical Society has been focused on restoring an incredibly important 1771 building on South Main Street to serve as Great Barrington's town museum and education archive center. We're a small nonprofit organization that has ongoing financial challenges, and a handful of dedicated volunteers interested in preserving Great Barrington history.

As work has continued this autumn on the especially rare, early Dutch wagon house located on the property, the Historical Society has sponsored ongoing programs on many interesting topics, and has more planned. Last spring we held our first-ever historical house tour, opening the doors to fascinating homes in Great Barrington and Housatonic. We make history fun!


And we have made a big start on sorting and cataloguing our vast archives securely stored at the Ramsdell Library in Housatonic — at the same time new materials including Lucien Aigner photographs and a 1765 bill of sale for a slave have joined the collection.

Even though so much of our work is done by volunteers, there are many, many costs involved in being a community resource, not to mention trying to restore an exceptionally important property, and establish a town-wide museum and archival center.

In recent months, historic preservation has been a topic of much discussion here in town. What better way to help preserve our history than to join the Great Barrington Historical Society and Museum. We welcome all who are interested in the history and preservation of our amazing town. It is easy to join us. Just visit our website: Your interest and your financial assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Debbie U. Oppermann, Great Barrington The writer is executive director of the Great Barrington Historical Society.