Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, Mass

The Red Lion Inn at the corner of Main and South Streets in Stockbridge, around 1905-1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2016:

The origins of the Red Lion Inn date back to 1773, when Silas Pepoon opened a tavern here in the center of Stockbridge. Taverns in colonial America often used distinctive signs to identify themselves, and Pepoon’s tavern sign featured a red lion with a green tail. Although its name would later be derived from the old sign, it was originally known simply as the Stockbridge House. In 1862, it was purchased by Charles and Mert Plumb, and in the decades that followed the hotel enjoyed success, with the Berkshires becoming a popular summer destination. During this time, the hotel was steadily expanded, and 1891 it was renamed Ye Red Lion Inn. Five years later, though, the historic building was completely destroyed in a fire.

The Plumbs rebuilt on the same site, although by now the hotel was being run by their nephew, Allen T. Treadway. A future state legislator and Congressman, Treadway also built the nearby Heaton Hall hotel, and he owned the two properties until his death in 1947. His son, Heaton, sold both hotels in 1955. By this point, many of the grand hotels of the Gilded Age had been destroyed by fires, or had closed during the Great Depression. Those that remained, such as the Red Lion and Heaton Hall, struggled with declining business, with tourists increasingly preferring modern, more convenient motels.

Both hotels were sold again in 1969. Heaton Hall was demolished a few years later, but the Red Lion Inn was purchased by Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick, the founders of Country Curtains. The ground floor of the inn became the company’s first permanent location, while the upper floors remained a hotel. Around the same time, Norman Rockwell, a longtime Stockbridge resident, featured it in his famous Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas painting. Since then, the inn has continued to be a prominent landmark in the center of town, and is one of the few surviving grand hotels in the Berkshires from the 19th century.

Children’s Chimes Tower, Stockbridge, Mass

The Children’s Chimes Tower in front of the First Congregational Church in Stockbridge, around 1905-1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The tower in 2015:

This bell tower was built on the site of the original church in Stockbridge, which stood here from 1739 until 1785. The church was established by John Sergeant, a missionary who moved here to convert the Mahican people to Christianity. He served here until his death in 1749, and he was replaced by Jonathan Edwards, the former Northampton pastor and prominent theologian who helped influence the First Great Awakening. Edwards was here until 1758, when he became the president of the College of New Jersey, now known as Princeton University.

The present church building, visible in the distance to the left in both photos, was built in 1824, during the pastorate of David Dudley Field, who served here from 1819 to 1837. He and his wife Submit raised their nine children here, four of whom became prominent figures in American history. Their oldest, David Dudley Field II, was a lawyer and law reformer who briefly served in the House of Representatives 1877.  Stephen Johnson Field was also a lawyer, and he served on the US Supreme Court from 1863 to 1897 for what was at the time a record 34 years. Cyrus West Field chose business over law, and he also enjoyed success; in 1858, he and a group of other investors established the first transatlantic telegraph cable. Henry Martyn Field, the youngest of the nine siblings, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a pastor, but he was also a successful writer, publishing a number of travel books in the second half of the 19th century.

The Children’s Chimes bell tower in front of the church was built in 1878 by David Dudley Field II, in honor of his grandchildren, with the intention that, “It will be a memorial of those who are enshrined in my heart, while the ringing of the chimes at sunset I trust will give pleasure to all whose good fortune is to live in this peaceful valley.” Today, almost 140 years later, it is still rung, according to his wishes, every evening at 5:30 between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Heaton Hall, Stockbridge, Mass

The view of Heaton Hall from near the corner of Prospect Hill Road and Pine Street in Stockbridge, around 1910-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The scene in 2015:

At the turn of the 20th century, the Berkshire towns of Lenox and Stockbridge were popular resort towns. Many wealthy families built massive summer homes here, while others stayed at the area’s luxury hotels, including Heaton Hall, an 85-room hotel built in 1904 on this hill above the center of Stockbridge. Its owner, Allen T. Treadway, was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and he later served as the president of the Massachusetts Senate from 1909 to 1911. In 1913, he was elected to Congress, where he represented the state’s 1st congressional district until his retirement in 1945. He was previously featured in this post, where he is seen visiting Calvin Coolidge at his home in Vermont.

After Congressman Treadway’s death in 1947, ownership of the hotel went to his son, Heaton, who sold the property in 1955. Unlike many other wood hotels of its era, Heaton Hall never burned down, but it closed in 1969 and was demolished three years later. In 1976, the property was sold to the Stockbridge Housing Authority, who built Heaton Court, an apartment complex for low-income seniors and those with disabilities. Today, aside from the name of the apartment complex, the only reminder of the hotel that once stood here is a “Heaton Hall” sign at the corner of Prospect Hill Road and Pine Street, just behind where these photos were taken.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Stockbridge, Mass

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, at the corner of Main and Pine Streets in Stockbridge, around 1905-1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The church in 2015:

Not much has changed for this historic church in downtown Stockbridge. It was built in 1884 in memory of Susan Ridley Sedgwick Butler, a native of Stockbridge. After her death, her husband Charles E. Butler provided the funds to build the church, and hired architect Charles Follen McKim to design it. It was McKim’s first church, and it reflects the style of Henry Hobson Richardson, who he had once worked for in the early 1870s. Several years after this church, he designed one of his most significant works, the Boston Public Library’s McKim Building at Copley Square. Today, the church is still an active congregation, and it is part of the Main Street Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.