Great Barrington, Ma. is a town in Berkshire county. It is both a summer resort and home to Ski Butternut. It is the birthplace of W.E.B. Dubois, academic and famous civil rights activist. Great Barrington includes the villages of Van Deusenville and Housatonic.
The area was originally called Mahaiwe by The Mahican Indians meaning “the place downstream.” It was located on a path that connected Albany with Springfield and then Boston. The village was first settled in 1726, and in 1761 was officially incorporated as Great Barrington, named after the village of Great Barrington in England
In the summer of 1774 what is now Town Hall was the center for the first open and armed resistance to British Rule., 1,500 men shut down the Berkshire County Court in response to British Oppression.
In the winter of 1776 Henry Knox passed through Great Barrington while transporting the cannon from Fort Ticonderoga to the Siege of Boston which established an agricultural interest in the area of Great Barrington.
With the arrival of the railroad, Great Barrington developed into a Gilded Age resort community. Many wealthy families wanting relief from the heat and pollution of the city built grand homes called Berkshire Cottages here, as others would in Lenox and Stockbridge. David Leavitt NYC Banker, industrialist and art patron had one of the earliest estates, an elaborate 300-acre property which was soon followed by those of his sons nearby. Leavitt was instrumental in the development of the Housatonic Railroad, serving as its president. Other later estates included Searles Castle, commissioned in 1888 by the widow of Mark Hopkins together with her second husband, Edward Searles, and Brookside which was built for William Hall Walker. Colonel William L. Brown, part owner of the New York Daily News, built Locustwood on Silver Street, and in 1895 presented the town of Great Barrington with a statue of a newsboy, now a landmark on the western edge of town
In March 1886 Great Barrington’s Main Street was the first in the United States to have electric lights the water mill at Great Barrington was the site of an experiment that first used water to drive an alternating current generator. A transformer was used to increase the voltage and the current was transmitted over a mile away to the nearest town to power street lights..
Today Great Barrington is a vibrant small town which acts as the hub for “South County”. Supporting not only a vibrant year round population but also a large population of second home owners in the surrounding communities. There are over 55 restaurants catering to a wide spectrum of tastes. The Mahaiwe Theater , which was recently renovated has become a center for year round music and cultural events. Lake Mansfield, a small lake located in town in the section called “On The Hill” has a beachfront for swimming and a lovely picnic area.
The Town is celebrating its 250th anniversary with a large parade in early July 2011. Details to be announced.
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