'Smart' way to view Great Barrington

Monday July 30, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- The town's Historical Commission has created a 21st century program that invites people to tour some of the town's most important historical sites.

The Great Barrington Historical Com mission has produced a smartphone historic walking tour of the town's Main Street corridor.

According to Malcolm Fick, a member of the Historical Commission and the team leader on the project, the tour covers 16 civic, commercial, religious and residential historic sites in the town's central business district.

Visitors can learn about each site through short text and audio descriptions, period and contemporary photographs and pertinent web links.

Fick said visitors can download the app for free at any time and may choose to preview the sites before taking the actual tour. Upon opening the app, visitors are guided from site to site by using a map linked to the GPS feature and smart phones.

Links to download the app for iPhone, Android and Windows smartphones can be found at the town's website: www.
townofgb.org/Pages/GBarring ton MA News/tour.

The project was funded in part by a grant from the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area.

Fick agreed that conventional walking tours with self-guided brochures, or live tour guides, "remain an important means to convey local history."

But at the same time, he said, "the app format presents an alternative that doesn't confine the visitor to a guide's schedule."

The app also provides visitors with the opportunity to view links and other supplementary material at their leisure, he explained.

The tour includes the following sites: The Mason Library, St. Peter's Church, the William Stanley Overlook, St. James Church, Town Hall and the "Winged Victory" monument, Searles Castle, the Dwight Henderson House, Bridge Str eet, the Searles and Bryant Schools, the Meth odist Church, the former Berkshire Courier building, Railroad Street, the Old Courthouse and the Mahaiwe block, the W.E.B. DuBois birthplace and the First Congregational Church.

All the sites are within walking distance of each other.

Historical Commission Chair man Paul Ivory said the creation of the program, "helps fill a primary goal of the Great Barr ington Historical Commission. We seek to enhance public awareness of the rich catalog of historic properties in the town and heighten appreciation of their importance in the community."

Fick said the research, writing, editing and audio narrative was completed by members of the Historical Com mission and other community volunteers. The images were taken from the archives of the Commission, the Great Barr ington Historical Society, local historians and community members.

To reach Derek Gentile:
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile


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