Jon Crispin's Notebook

Emancipation Proclamation

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Family, Government, History, People by joncrispin on 04/01/2013

On the first of January bells were rung around Massachusetts at 2 pm to commemorate the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  I had heard that Pelham was going to join in and we went up to the historical society to have a look.  This building used to be a church.  It was built in 1839 when the government made the town move the worship area out of the town hall due to separation of church and state.  The town hall (built 1743) is right next door and is interesting in that it is the oldest town hall in continuous use in the United States.  The October town meeting is convened in it and then moved down to the school to be able to hold everyone.  Pelham is also interesting in that it is the home of Daniel Shays.  It is worth reading about him if you are interested in American history.  His story is amazing.

Anyway, we arrived at the historical society and a few folks had shown up to participate.  The single bell in the belfry was cast in England in the 1830s and has been out of service for a long time.  Somehow enough money was found to conduct an engineering assessment of the structure to make sure that if it were rung the whole thing wouldn’t just collapse.  It checked out OK (as they say); a new pull rope was attached and it was ready to go.  We all took our turns and it was a surprisingly moving experience.

Bartlett Fishrod Factory Dam

Posted in History, Landscape, Plants, Rivers by joncrispin on 17/04/2011

It rained really hard last night, and I thought it would be a good time to start to document the old dam on Amethyst Brook in Pelham.  There is some talk about removing it to allow the river to revert to its original course.  It was built almost 200 years ago, and the small lake above the dam used to be a popular swimming spot for the locals.  When we first moved to the area, it seemed sad that it no longer filled this purpose.  Years ago the state declared it unsafe, and in 2008, the state Office of Dam Safety declared it “structurally deficient”, and the current owners were forced to either repair or remove it.  Lots of dough involved here, and several local and national pro rivers organizations are trying to raise the money needed to start the demolition.  I hated the idea at first (destruction of a cool old structure), but after reading an article in the Amherst Bulletin, it seems to make a sense in terms of restoring the river to its original state.  It’ll be fun to watch what happens.

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