The Berkshire Lumber Company of Pittsfield will be 60 years old tomorrow. That may seem virtually beardless when compared with such lively oldsters as Crane & Co. (159 years old), E.D. Jones Corp. (115) or England Brothers (103), but Berkshire Lumber enjoys one distinction shared by few others of its years — one of the founders who is still highly active in the business. He is William T. Butler, at 85 undoubtedly the oldest day-in, day-out toiler in the vineyards of local commerce.

Mr. Butler, born in Pittsfield Dec. 7, 1874, was only 16 when he entered the lumber business here. It wasn't until the advanced age of 25 that he joined his father, the late Charles D. Butler, in founding Berkshire Lumber, then as now on Columbus Avenue.

As treasurer of the firm, Mr. Butler naturally enjoys certain privileges. He comes in about 9:30 in the morning, and he takes a long lunch hour, but he is no idle coupon clipper or dividend collector. He puts in morning and afternoon shifts every day, and so far he has managed to resist every suggestion that he should think of retiring to a well-earned rest.

Apparently he never was one to rush into things. At least he took his time looking over the field before he married Alice Bailey of Austerlitz, N.Y. "I waited until I was 38, and then I thought I'd better get under cover," he says today. With Mrs. Butler he lives at 222 Dawes Ave. in a fine residential neighborhood first developed by one of the many ancillary companies he and Berkshire Lumber have organized over the years.

Most of those other enterprises, like Berkshire Lumber, have enjoyed a considerable success. They have created such products as the "Butler Block" at 50-60 South St., housing some of Pittsfield's poshest shops and offices; the "parkways" section between Dawes Avenue and Williams Street, site of some of the city's poshest residential addresses; and the Stockbridge Bowl cottage development on the east shore of Lake Mahkeenac. 

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.