Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Had to see more of Hadley

Today we continued our serendipity. After seeing the old houses on West Street Common yesterday, we were curious whether there were any older, so I googled the oldest house in Hadley and found out that it was built in 1752 and is open to the public as the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum. So we started off our day with a visit there. It had been the home of a fairly well-to-do (for that time and place) family who lived in it for six generations and had hundreds of acres of farmland. The third generation included Frederic Dan Huntington who would go on to become the first bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York. I discovered that one of his consecrators was my ancestor (my maternal grandmother’s great uncle), Horatio Potter, then Bishop of the Diocese of New York. It’s neat finding all these unexpected connections with family history!
We had lunch at Hillside Pizza which had really delicious GF three-cheese crust pizza (ingredients list for my own memory -- I’m going to try this at home sometime: tapioca flour, milk, eggs, canola oil, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese), uses all local ingredients (including locally made take-out boxes), and also operates as a fundraising company for community projects. I liked its philosophy.

After lunch we went for a walk along the Norwottuck Rail Trail (named after the Native American settlement occupying what is now Northampton), an 11-mile path linking Northampton, Hadley, and Amherst along the former Boston & Main Railroad right-of-way. We walked the section that crossed the old rail bridge over the Connecticut River. The views were magnificent.
From there we walked around Northampton (where Jonathan Edwards was at the center of the Great Awakening) in the waning daylight and saw:
First Church (1877) – the current edifice is the fifth meeting house to occupy the site. The church has had a long roster of distinguished ministers, including Solomon Stoddard (1669-1729) and his grandson Jonathan Edwards (1727-1750), who were its second and third ministers, respectively. Nothing is left of the third meeting house (1737-1812), where Edwards preached, except a semi-circular stone step.
Forbes Library (1894) – designed by architect William C. Brocklesby of Hartford, CT, in a style known as Richardsonian Romanesque, after the work of Henry Hobson Richardson – a style characterized by the use of contrasting light and dark color stones (granite and sandstone), massive rounded arches resting on short, squat columns and complex roof systems. It is in the Register of Historic Buildings. It is named after Judge Charles E. Forbes, who wished to build a public library for the citizens of Northampton, and left money for it. I have not been able to trace any connection between him and my Forbes ancestors.
The Manse (1737) – The original structure on this site was built by Rev. Solomon Stoddard (Jonathan Edwards’ grandfather) in 1684. It was where Edwards stayed when he first came to Northampton. Stoddard’s son, Colonel John Stoddard, inherited the house from his father and built the structure that remains today, which is in the National Register of Historic Places.

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