Recap of our 2012 Season

Here are some photos taken during the 2012 season:

Dam Nice ViewA dam nice view! This years expansion of the exhibit space provides a spectacular view of the historic and sometimes menacing Green River in our backyard.

The new expanded exhibit space created a gathering place for community groups to meet.

This is the Western Mass chapter of the Solid Works User Group. Solid Works is a computer based engineering software. The group meets periodically to share what they know and learn new features.

In addition to being open Saturdays and Sundays we had a wonderfully well-attended open house in August, our “Summer Celebration.” When the blue skies turned into thunderstorms the action moved inside and with our new space we had room for everyone to spend time exploring the exhibits and the hands-on  activities in the exhibit area and workshop. We’re planning more great events for next year

Iron Johnny had the forge fired up and we had scouts helping kids make toolboxes.

A great band, Brightlines, kept things lively until blue skies turned into thunderstorms.


2012 was the year we finally secured a prime spot at the Franklin County Fair and despite challenging weather conditions hundreds of new people became acquainted with the museum and it’s mission.

2012 was also the first year for the Hilltowns History Conference held in Colrain, which the Museum participated in.

Museum Reopens for 2012 Season Saturdays and Sundays 1 – 4 pm

On June 23rd the Museum reopened with a new larger space overlooking the Green River and expanded exhibits highlighting the early industries of Franklin County’s small flag

A large 1858 Franklin County wall map and accompanying references pinpoint all types of mills and small businesses in existence during that era.  Want to know what people were making in your town in 1858?  Look on the map for color coded dots telling you what happened there.

Some of the first tools manufactured in Franklin County are displayed, along with precision tools made by small companies. Another part of thenew exhibit offers hands-on activities demonstrating  some of these early manufacturing processes.

Does your family have an industrial  story to share?  We’d like to hear it!  Come in and share your family history and learn how other people contributed to our local and national industries.

The Museum of Our Industrial Heritage is making history fun for people of all ages!

Renovations Under Way!

Renovations are underway at the museum to create both a new exhibit space and a comfortable place for community gatherings. We received a second round of grants from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (the Franklin Fund and Credit Data Services, Inc. Fund) and 14 Local Cultural Councils, this year to fund a new exhibit highlighting Franklin County’s small towns.  We’re also expanding our open hours to Summer Saturdays and Sundays.

The new space offers a magnificent view of the Green River and the still intact 1914 Greenfield Electric Company Power Dam, and is the location of the Green River Mill archeological site. It will also provide a place for public gatherings for lectures and educational programs.

We need your help! We have received our initial award of $3,000, but the Community Foundation will award us an additional much needed $3000 if we raise matching funds. We need your help now to reach this goal by mid-June.  Please be as generous as you can and send your Summer Sundays—Plus! donation to the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage, 2 Mead Street, Greenfield 01301 or donate online here:

Thank You,

James Terapane

Museum Demo 2012 020

Dust cake pulled from bellow the floor boards.

Renovating a 200 year old industrial building  is more like “Indoor Archeology.” While Jim removes layers of floors (approximately 5”deep) and the original floor boards are revealed, Chris examines the cracks in the floor for possible 19th century treasures left by workers. So far we find only fine iron dust cake from grinding operations perhaps from the Nichols Bros. cutlery or the Wells Bros. Tool Co., both located here in this section of the complex.

Iron Dust Cake

Iron Dust Cake

Flood! Hurricane Irene Visits MOIH

MOIH flooded by Hurricane Irene

One of the biggest risks of building a water powered mill is that you are at the mercy of a river when it goes out of control. Hurricane Irene brought historic flooding to our mill on August 28, 2011.

Although the hurricane had been downgraded to a tropical storm, record rainfalls hit Vermont, the source of our Green River. The silt- laden waters continued to rise through the afternoon, carrying with them 150 foot trees, dumpsters, tires, and other debris. Flood waters continued to rise and began slapping up against our riverside foundation. More than five feet of water filled the basement by the end of the afternoon.

By late afternoon we decided to evacuate our main exhibit room. We are fortunate that the rising waters stopped below the first floor, thus sparing our tenants and the main part of the museum.

The basement after the flood

Monday revealed one to two inches of silty mud in the basement storage area. Objects which were too heavy for the water to lift, were floated up and left in dangerous piles. Our four 250-gallon fuel oil tanks were standing up-ended. Some vintage factory line shaft items were damaged, but none of the museum’s collection was stored below. Our work was cut out for us as we returned objects to the main exhibit gallery, and continued clean up and repairs to prepare for the season’s final open “Summer Sunday” on September 3rd and participation in Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day on Saturday, September 24th.

We appreciate the many concerned inquiries, and your continued support!

Antique auto club visits MOIH

May 21, 2011 CVR Antique Car Club Visit

John Johnson, President of the “CVR” (Connecticut Valley Region Chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America), led 24 enthusiastic members and their outstanding collection of antique autos on a tour of Greenfield, MA.

Stops included MOIH and its historic site along the Green River. The other site has a unique connection to the early auto industry and the roots of the “car collecting hobby”.  The tour stopped at the Chauncey Wing’s Sons company, a 120 year old “machine specialty” shop that is still operating.

Henry Wing was one of the founders of the CVR and an avid car collector back in the mid 1900’s. This wooden factory and brick foundry was also the site of the manufacture of America’s first sports car, the “Wing Special”, in the 1920s. This facility is now under the care of MOIH VP John Passiglia, who is restoring the foundry and running his blacksmith shop.  Both John and long time employee Paul Severens are continuing to keep this historic facility in business.

The tour also included a visit to local car collector Dennis Menard and his large collection of iconic American cars.  Dennis’ current project is a  restoration of a 1936 Cord. The tour also included a fine lunch at the Greenfield Country Club. Great day, CVR!