Valley Gives 2012

Many thanks for your generous donations on 12/12/12! The museum raised over $600, which will help us keep the museum open again weekend afternoons next summer. Thank you to the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and many valley businesses for sponsoring the day.

A celebration of mud and Morris Dancers

We had a great time at our Mud Day celebration. Two teams of Morris/ Molly Dancers showed up, one from Greenfield Tap and Die and the other from Princeton, NJ. Who would have ever thought that we would see such frolicking in our main exhibit space!

As usual, we also had plenty of guests come through the hands on workshop, to learn about historical machine tools.

Thanks to everyone for making this event so successful and so much fun.

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Ambrotypes Reveal Forgotten History!

Jones & Thompson Patent Planar Jones & Thompson Patent Planar – 1856 Jones & Thompson Patent Planar - 1856 Jones & Thompson Patent Planar – 1856

Mystery Pictures Discovered

A local historian friend, Peter Miller, provided copies of two probable ambrotype images, which appear to be from the 1850s. Peter was permitted to copy the originals from an old owner who claimed to be related to one of the pictured men, named Thompson. It is the machine, itself, that is the real subject and reason for these pictures to have been made!

An earlier version of this post identified these images as daguerreotypes. We have not seen the originals, but agree with the comments two readers have made, below. Ambrotypes were albumen coated glass, and would account for the crack lines in these images. We now presume these to be ambrotypes.

Non-Human Subjects, from these years are Rare

Remember that in the 1850s, only professionals made photographs, and the vast majority were portraits, made at the artist’s studio. Taking photographs of a machine in a factory would have been a special and costly job.

Jones & Thompson's Green River Site -1855

Jones & Thompson’s Green River Site -1855 in Greenfield MA

Jones & Thompson – Greenfield, Massachusetts

A company, named Jones and Thompson, operated most of our museum site in the 1850s. They ran a foundry and produced iron products. They also may have owned and operated the Green River Mills and dam. Lacking better information, we might easily imagine their metal industry as being like a large scale blacksmith shop. Maybe their products were just simple farm and trade tools. What did they really make? Did they supply a traditional market, or were they “high tech”? We knew little about Jones & Thompson, aside what we learned from the old maps. Is it possible that these two pictures might reveal a lost story?

Seeking an Answer

Our President, Jim Terapane, followed a hunch and began searching U.S. Patents awarded to residents of Greenfield. He came up with this!

Edwin Jones Patent - 1856

Edwin Jones Patent – 1856

The Pictures Match the Patent Drawings

The patent application for this clapboard planing machine mentions three names. Edwin Jones as claimant, and witnesses Hugh M. Thompson and Charles Mattoon. How much of a stretch is it, to presume that these are the same men standing in our picture?
We could also speculate that these two expensive pictures were actually made to document the machine for its patent application. If true, these two pictures are almost certainly from 1856 and that makes them the earliest photographs we have of Greenfield’s manufacturing history!

What Else May Still Be Discovered?

Please imagine the excitement we feel, when discovering such a lost bit of history! First, an unexpected piece of our imperfect jigsaw puzzle appears and challenges us to identify it. Then, imagine our thrill when we discover this piece reveals a new detail of the past!
Help us! Keep your eyes open for more historic gems, such as this. So much is already lost to time, but who’s to say what still might survive and contribute to our historic “jigsaw puzzle”?

Digital Projects of 2014 Now Available for Viewing

We had the opportunity to add two important projects to our web exhibits this year. They are now available for viewing.

For years we followed rumors of an important local artist’s depiction of Cheapside river port, an important river transport center on the Deerfield River. We found it on a wall seven feet high and eighteen feet long!

View Stephen Maniatty’s “Cheapside River Port”

We were also loaned a treasure of information about the original Wiley & Russell Tap and Die maker in the form of a rare and fragile set of insurance maps. All of the buildings and their function are described. This contiguous set from 1889 to 1913 reveal the evolution of the company over this time. These are available now to view in detail.

View the Wiley & Russell Insurance Map Set.

These maps and available photographs allowed us to recreate a virtual reality model of the site as it would have appeared in 1897. More effort would make it a lot better , but it is fun and revealing to enjoy now!

View the Wiley & Russell animation model page

Jim Terrapane and Chris Clawson to speak at Colrain Historical Society

 Two of our board members, Jim Terapane and Chris Clawson, will use maps and photos to illustrate a presentation on hill town mills in the county and how they relate to later mills in the valley on Thursday, August 14th at 7:30pm in the Stacy Carriage Barn behind the Pitt House on Main Street (in Colrain).
This is program is part of the continuing series of summer programs dealing with the history of water-powered mills in Colrain.

The program is free, and refreshments will be served.

Fiddle Fest With Donna Hébert and Friends, Sunday July 6

The Museum of Our Industrial Heritage will host its annual Summer Celebration on Sunday July 6, from 1 – 4 pm.

Donna Hebert with her fiddleFiddle entertainment under the tent will be led by renowned western Massachusetts fiddler Donna Hébert. The program features Celtic aires and walzes from Quebec, performed by Hébert’s trio Mist Covered Mountains. In a line up of acoustic entertainment for the whole family, fiddle students will take the stage, and there will be a fiddle jam for all comers.

Visitors can take a guided walk along the Green River to the Wiley-Russell dam, and visit the museum’s new exhibit for 2014, “Rags to Riches,” the story of Franklin County’s Paper Industry. Enjoy demonstrations and try hands-on activities, including paper-making. Refreshments will be served.  Rain or shine. Admission is free.

Mass Cultural Council logo

This program is supported in part by grants from the local cultural councils of Bernardston, Buckland, Greenfield, Heath, Leyden, Orange, Wendell, and Whately, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.  Thank you!

The Art of Industry Exhibit, a smashing success!!

We had a packed house for our Art of Industry exhibit.

Opening night was quite a scene, with many visitors who were participating in Greenfield’s first Fridays “Gotta Bee Downtown” stopping by and some of the contributing artists coming too.

Some of our local businesses generously contributed food and drink for the festivities. The People’s Pint and Lefty’s both donated locally brewed beers and Hillside Pizza donated pizza. All of the guests gobbled, guzzled and socialized while meandering through the exhibit.

On Saturday the fun continued, with a visit from GCC’s Architecture of Greenfield Tour in the morning and then a constant stream of visitors in the afternoon. We will post pictures of some of the exhibited art soon.

Thanks to Lefty’s, The People’s Pint, and Hillside Pizza for their generous donations on Friday night.

Opening Night, The Art of Industry

– The Art of Industry –

One evening and one day only, at the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage

Friday, June 6, 5pm – 8pm and Saturday June 7, 10am – 4pm

Admission is free

This exhibit highlighted the painting “Millers Falls Company”, one of the earliest commissioned works by Franklin County landscape artist Stephen Maniatty (1910-1984), thought to have been part of a mural in Greenfield’s Mansion House Hotel. The museum proudly debuts this painting after a recent restoration by local artist Frank Gregory.  Integrity of workmanship, design, and materials is on display in hand-drawn blueprints and promotional artwork from Russell Cutlery, Greenfield Tap & Die and other former manufacturing companies of Franklin County; in hand made tools embellished with personalized artwork; and original paintings by local artists, including Thurman Munson, Frank Gregory, Susan Pecora and Astrid Sheckels.

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MOIH is a featured stop on the History and Architecture tour of Greenfield

The Pioneer Valley Institute is offering a day tour of
the highlights of Greenfield on Saturday, June 7: “Spring into
Greenfield: A Trolley Ride Through our Town’s History and
Architecture”. The town’s trolley bus will be the mode of
transportation for the day, and is a reminder of the active trolley
system available 100 years ago throughout the Connecticut River Valley.

Greenfield, its buildings, its industries, and farmland, offer a complex
story. This hub town for Franklin County is the site of fine examples of
architectural design, of industrial innovation, and of current efforts
to retrofit Greenfield’s fine older buildings to conserve energy for the
coming decades. Greenfield was a crossroads for train freight service
and will soon see restored passenger service. Waterpower and fine
farmland attracted early settlers and investors, and innovators and
businesses continue to recognize opportunities in the town.

The center of Greenfield hosts stunning examples of architecture, and
Lindley Wilson, art and architecture instructor, will lead a walking
tour.

Following the walking tour, the next trolley bus stop will be a visit to
the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage!!!. Early innovative and successful
use of waterpower made Greenfield an industrial center that supported a
large workforce and a busy commercial district, and some of the state’s
wealthiest residents. The Museum’s exhibits capture the innovative
forces in Greenfield and other county towns during the 18th and 19th
centuries. The museum’s Meade Street site is a prime example of the
town’s ties to waterpower.

After lunch at one of Greenfield’s diverse restaurants, the tour will
explore the future with Nancy Hazard, former director of the Northeast
Sustainable Energy Association and member of Greening Greenfield, as
guide. The tour will explore re-purposing and improving Greenfield’s
older buildings on the way to a visit with a resident of the Wisdom Way
Solar Village, a first-in-the-nation near-zero-net-energy affordable
housing project, where residents spend less than $400 each year on heat
and electricity.

The tour will conclude by exploring the exciting progress at Just Roots,
Greenfield’s Community Farm, built on Greenfield’s Poor Farm, which
operated over 100 years from 1849 into the 1950’s. This innovative farm
is benefiting area residents by offering community gardens, reskilling
workshops, programs for youth, internships, food donations to the food
bank and much more!