Plaque denotes Melville Trail in Pittsfield

Friday October 5, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- In his epic tale "Moby-Dick," Herman Melville wrote, "It is not down on any map; true places never are."

But turn off Route 7 onto Hancock Road and enter the second driveway on the right, and there, slightly down the hill and to the left, overlooking Pontoosuc Lake, is a new sign indicating there is something more there than just a beautiful view.

A ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the sign Wednesday was one of the culminating events of "Call Me Melville," Pittsfield's summer-long celebration of the author.

A handful of dedicated folks gathered under a tent and umbrellas in the misty morning to illuminate the new interpretive plaque for the self-guided Melville Trail, which weaves through the Berkshires' farmlands and mountains.

Donna Kittredge, of Dalton, designed the new trail plaque, Marianna Poutasse of Pittsfield produced the copy, and W.J. Blueprint and Digital Graphics printed it in Pittsfield.

The first iteration of the trail was created in 2000, when the White House designated it as a Community Millennium Trail. This year, the trail is being updated with support from a $1,430 grant from the Housatonic Heritage initiative.

Pontoosuc Lake is included on the trail because it's known as a spot where Melville went on fishing excursions. He later wrote a poem about the lake titled "Pontoosuce" around 1924.

"The story of Melville in the Berkshires is a great story," said Dan Bolognani, executive director of Housatonic Heritage.

Will Garrison, curator of the Berkshire Historical Society at Herman Melville's Arrow head residence in Pittsfield, said Melville and his family spent 12 years there, from 1850 to 1862.

Garrison said there are four places now with interpretive panels on Melville in the Berkshires, including Pon toosuc, Arrowhead, the Berk shire Athenaeum, and Monu ment Mountain in Great Barrington.

In addition to printed materials, he said a website is in the works to help "broaden reach, inform and inspire" people about the author and his history.

"Anecdotally speaking of visitors this summer, I was surprised and gratified to learn how many fans there are of Melville," Garrison said.

The Call Me Melville's 135 days of literary excursions, programs and interpretations concludes Monday with events taking place throughout the Columbus Day weekend.

"He's an American icon, but a Pittsfield guy," said Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi of the author, prior to Wednesday's ribbon cutting. "We had such a wonderful time remembering him."

Call Me Melville finale


* "Moby-Dick Rehearsed." Performance of Orson Welles' adaptation of Melville's novel at 7:30 p.m. at The Garage at The Colonial Theatre, 111 South St., Pittsfield. Admission is $10. Reservations at (413) 997-4444 or www.berk

* Conor Lovett of the Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland performs an innovative adaptation of "Moby-Dick," at 8 p.m. at the Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield. Admission, $10; museum members, $5. Info at (413) 443-7171 or www.berk

* "Melville, Haunted." Presented by VOICES Theatre Company in collaboration with Berkshire Historical Society, at Arrowhead, 780 Holmes Road, Pittsfield. Play performed within the context of a candlelight tour. A harvest dessert buffet, presided over by the ghost of Nathaniel Hawthorne, follows the play, which is tonight through Sunday night at 7:30. Tickets, $25. Reservations, (413) 442-1793, (413) 442-1928 or

* Tonight's First Fridays Artswalk in Pittsfield's Upstreet Cultural District features two Call Me Melville events: The dedication of the Herman Melville Memorial Moby-Dick reciting park bench on North Street, and "crowd-scribing" Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener" at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Ave., Pittsfield.


* Four ongoing exhibits throughout Berkshire County celebrate the life and work of Melville. The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts hosts a juried group show, "Melville Contemporary," that is free and open to the public during the Artswalk and from noon to 5 on Saturday.

* The Berkshire Historical Society at Arrowhead has two: Doug Paisley's "The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade" and "So Far From Home: Whalers and Whaler Art." Both are on display daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Monday.

* "A Sea Feeling in the Mountains" photography show can be seen at Chesterwood and Sohn Fine Art in Stockbridge through Oct. 14 and 29, respectively. Inspired by Melville and the relationship between seascapes and the Berkshire landscape. Chesterwood is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 4 Williamsville Road in Stockbridge. Sohn Fine Art is located at 6 Elm St., 1B-C, open Thursdays through Mondays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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