Massachusetts Travel: The Berkshires – Pittsfield, Lee, North Adams, Stockbridge & Springfield
Fall is one of the most beautiful travel seasons in different parts of Canada and the United States. In late September of 2010 we booked one week in the Berkshires, a popular mountain getaway area in western Massachusetts. Our home base was a condo in the small town of Hancock, directly opposite the famous Jiminy Peaks ski hill.
We arrived in the early morning of September 26, 2010 and made ourselves comfortable in our home away from home. Although the weather was rather drizzly and grey, I started my local exploration in the nearby town of Pittsfield. With a population of about 45,000 people Pittsfield is the largest town in the Berkshires and features a recently revitalized downtown that is centered around the refurbished Colonial Theater, originally a vaudeville theater from 1903. The town has several gorgeous bodies of water, including Lake Onota and Lake Pontoosuc. During my walk I also stumbled across a Victorian-era industrial complex called the Wyandotte Mill which is still occupied by commercial tenants.
On Monday we headed off again; this time just a little south of Pittsfield to the town of Lee which also has a very picturesque and historic downtown area that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This town used to be a center of paper making; by 1857 Lee had 25 paper mills. Marble was quarried nearby and was even used in the construction of the Capitol in Washington and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. To the south of Lee is a popular outlet mall called Prime Outlets with 60 designer outlet stores.
On September 28, 2010 I headed off to the town of North Adams to explore another award-winning historic structure: the Porches Inn, a collection of Victorian row houses, former mill workers’ homes, that was lovingly rescued and restored by successful local hospitality entrepreneur Nancy Fitzpatrick. Nancy showed me through the entire property which features 47 uniquely appointed rooms that charm the visitor with their “industrial granny chic ambiance”. Sabine, the house cat, welcomed me as well, and as a true architecture lover, I was duly impressed by Nancy’s commitment to historical preservation.