Stockbridge, Massachusetts facts for kids

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Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Town
Looking from Heaton Hall, Stockbridge, MA.jpg
Official seal of Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Seal
Location in Berkshire County and the state of Massachusetts.
Location in Berkshire County and the state of Massachusetts.
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Berkshire
Settled 1734
Incorporated 1739
Government
 • Type Open town meeting
Area
 • Total 23.7 sq mi (61.3 km2)
 • Land 22.7 sq mi (58.9 km2)
 • Water 0.9 sq mi (2.4 km2)
Elevation 842 ft (257 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 1,947
 • Density 86/sq mi (33.1/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 01262
Area code(s) 413
FIPS code 25-67595
GNIS feature ID 0618274
Website www.townofstockbridge.com

Stockbridge is a town in Berkshire County in western Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,947 at the 2010 census. A year-round resort area, Stockbridge is home to the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Austen Riggs Center (a noted psychiatric treatment center), and Chesterwood, home and studio of sculptor Daniel Chester French.

History

Old Mission House Stockbridge MA
Mission House, built about 1740. Postcard c.1908.

Stockbridge was first settled by English missionaries in 1734, who established it as a mission for the Mahican Indian tribe known as the Stockbridge Indians. The township was set aside for the tribe by English colonists as a reward for their assistance against the French in the French and Indian Wars. The Reverend John Sergeant from Newark, New Jersey, was their missionary. Sergeant was succeeded in this post by Jonathan Edwards, a notable Christian theologian associated with the First Great Awakening.

First chartered as Indian Town in 1737, the village was officially incorporated on June 22, 1739, as Stockbridge. The English colonists named it after Stockbridge in Hampshire, England.

Although the Massachusetts General Court had assured the Stockbridge Indians that their land would never be sold, the agreement was rescinded. Despite the aid by the tribe during the Revolutionary War, the state forced their relocation to the west, first to New York State, then to Wisconsin. The village was taken over by British-American settlers.

With the arrival of the railroad in 1850, Stockbridge developed as a summer resort for the wealthy of Boston and other major cities. Many large houses, called Berkshire Cottages, were built in the area before World War I and the advent of the income tax. One estate on the Lenox border, Tanglewood, was adapted for use as the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Since 1853, Stockbridge has benefited from the presence of the Laurel Hill Association, a village beautification society. The Stockbridge Bowl Association maintains and preserves the natural beauty of Stockbridge Bowl and the surrounding Bullard Woods.

Stockbridge was the home of Elizabeth Freeman, a freed slave, late in her life. The former slave engaged the attorney Theodore Sedgwick to file a freedom suit on her behalf, based on the statements in the new state constitution in 1780. In the case with a slave named Brom, the county court ruled that they were both free under the constitution. Their case served as precedent to a later case before the State Supreme Court, effectively ending slavery in Massachusetts. Freeman transferred as a free woman to work in the household of Sedgwick, who became a state judge. Also working in the household was Agrippa Hull, a free black veteran of the war, who became the largest black landowner in Stockbridge. Freeman was buried in the Sedgwick family plot at the Stockbridge Cemetery.

Catharine Maria Sedgwick, a daughter of Theodore and his wife, became a renowned 19th-century literary figure. She was born in Stockbridge in 1789. She is the author of six novels, including her most famous, Hope Leslie (1827).

In the Curtisville area, now known as the Interlaken part of Stockbridge, Albrecht Pagenstecher, an immigrant from Saxony, established the first wood-based newsprint paper mill in the United States, in March 1867. Pagenstecher later went on to found "numerous pulp and paper mills throughout the Northeast and Canada" and serve on the Board of Directors of the International Paper Company.

The town has a tradition as an art colony. The sculptor Daniel Chester French lived and worked at his home and studio called Chesterwood. Norman Rockwell painted many of his works in Stockbridge, home to the Norman Rockwell Museum.

Geography and climate

Stockbridge, MA - Town Offices 01
Stockbridge Town Offices in 1914 school building

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 23.7 sq mi (61.3 km2), of which 22.7 sq mi (58.9 km2) is land and 0.93 sq mi (2.4 km2), or 3.97%, is water. Stockbridge is bordered by Richmond to the northwest, Lenox to the north and northeast, Lee to the east, Great Barrington to the south, and West Stockbridge to the west. The town is located 13.5 miles (21.7 km) south of Pittsfield, 35 miles (56 km) southeast of Albany, New York, 45 miles (72 km) west-northwest of Springfield, and 130 miles (210 km) west of Boston.

Set among the Berkshire Mountains, Stockbridge is drained by the Housatonic River, which runs through the center of town. The river is fed by several marshy brooks and lakes, including Mohawk Lake to the west, Agawam Lake to the south, Lake Averic in the northwest, and Lake Mahkeenac, also known as the Stockbridge Bowl, to the north. Stockbridge Bowl is the site of a town beach, a boating club, and a summer camp, Camp Mah-Kee-Nac. North of the bowl lies parts of Tanglewood. To either side of the bowl lie West Stockbridge Mountain and Rattlesnake Hill. To the south, Monument Mountain peaks on the Great Barrington town line, and Beartown Mountain peaks to the east, closer to the Lee town line.

The town is nearly bisected by Interstate 90, the Massachusetts Turnpike. There are exits in neighboring West Stockbridge and Lee. Several state routes, including Route 102, Route 183 and U.S. Route 7 all pass through town, with Routes 102 and 7 sharing a short stretch in downtown Stockbridge, and Routes 102 and 183 meeting in the village of Larrywaug. In this village are the Berkshire Botanical Gardens and the Norman Rockwell Museum. South of there, in the village of Glendale, lies Chesterwood.

The Housatonic Railroad, the main rail line between Pittsfield and Great Barrington, passes through the town and lies mostly on the southern bank of the river. The town lies along a Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA) bus line, which provides service between Pittsfield and Great Barrington. Pittsfield is also the site of the nearest regional bus service, as well as regional Amtrak service. There are local airports in Pittsfield and Great Barrington, and the nearest national air service is located at Albany International Airport in New York.

Climate data for Stockbridge, Massachusetts (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 32.5
(0.28)
35.8
(2.11)
45.1
(7.28)
57.6
(14.22)
69.6
(20.89)
77.4
(25.22)
81.3
(27.39)
79.3
(26.28)
71.2
(21.78)
60.1
(15.61)
48.4
(9.11)
36.6
(2.56)
57.9
(14.39)
Average low °F (°C) 12.7
(-10.72)
14.3
(-9.83)
23.3
(-4.83)
33.5
(0.83)
43.4
(6.33)
51.8
(11)
56.9
(13.83)
55.6
(13.11)
47.6
(8.67)
36.9
(2.72)
29.5
(-1.39)
18.9
(-7.28)
35.4
(1.89)
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.67
(93.2)
2.87
(72.9)
3.82
(97)
3.71
(94.2)
4.31
(109.5)
4.02
(102.1)
4.13
(104.9)
4.56
(115.8)
3.93
(99.8)
3.99
(101.3)
3.85
(97.8)
3.74
(95)
46.60
(1,183.6)
Snowfall inches (cm) 16.2
(41.1)
16.1
(40.9)
11.4
(29)
3.6
(9.1)
.1
(0.3)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
4.7
(11.9)
12.8
(32.5)
64.9
(164.8)
Avg. precipitation days 10 9 11 12 12 11 11 11 10 9 11 10 127

Demographics

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1850 1,941 —    
1860 2,136 +10.0%
1870 2,003 −6.2%
1880 2,357 +17.7%
1890 2,132 −9.5%
1900 2,081 −2.4%
1910 1,933 −7.1%
1920 1,764 −8.7%
1930 1,762 −0.1%
1940 1,815 +3.0%
1950 2,311 +27.3%
1960 2,161 −6.5%
1970 2,312 +7.0%
1980 2,328 +0.7%
1990 2,408 +3.4%
2000 2,276 −5.5%
2010 1,947 −14.5%
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.
The Village Street, Stockbridge, MA
Main Street, around 1910

As of the census of 2000, there were 2,276 people, 991 households, and 567 families residing in the town. By population, Stockbridge ranks twelfth out of the 32 cities and towns in Berkshire County, and 285th out of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. The population density was 99.2 people per square mile (38.3/km²), which ranks 12th in the county and 281st in the Commonwealth. There were 1,571 housing units at an average density of 68.5 per square mile (26.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.92% White, 1.23% African American, 0.04% Native American, 0.44% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.97% from other races, and 0.35% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.90% of the population.

There were 991 households out of which 18.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 6.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.7% were non-families. 36.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.67.

Monument to the Stockbridge Indians, Stockbridge, MA
Indian Monument in 1905

In the town, the population was spread out with 15.2% under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 22.5% from 25 to 44, 33.5% from 45 to 64, and 22.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 49 years. For every 100 females there were 91.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.5 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $48,571, and the median income for a family was $59,556. Males had a median income of $32,500 versus $27,969 for females. The per capita income for the town was $32,499. About 1.7% of families and 8.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.2% of those under age 18 and 4.1% of those age 65 or over.

Sites of interest

Rockwell museum
The Norman Rockwell Museum
Naumkeag Gardens, Stockbridge, MA
Naumkeag Gardens c. 1908
  • Austen Riggs Center, psychiatric hospital
  • Berkshire Botanical Garden
  • Berkshire Theatre Festival, originally designed by Stanford White as a casino (1888)
  • Chesterwood, home of Daniel Chester French
  • Curtisville Historic District
  • Dudley Field Memorial Tower (Children's Chimes Tower)
  • Ice Glen
  • Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health
  • Merwin House (c. 1825)
  • Mission House (c. 1739)
  • National Shrine of The Divine Mercy
  • Naumkeag Museum & Gardens (1886)
  • Norman Rockwell Museum
  • Sedgwick Pie, unique family plot at the Stockbridge Cemetery
  • Shadow Brook Farm Historic District, summer home of Andrew Carnegie
  • Stockbridge Bowl, aka Lake Mahkeenac
  • Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra

In popular culture

In fine art

Longtime Stockbridge resident Norman Rockwell illustrated the town in his 1967 painting, Main Street, Stockbridge at Christmas. He frequently used Stockbridge residents in his drawings and paintings, such as William Obanhein's appearance in the advertisement "Policeman with Boys."

In music

Stockbridge was the location of Alice's Restaurant in the song of the same name by Arlo Guthrie which describes the town as having "three stop signs, two police officers and one police car".

Inspired by the river during his honeymoon, the American classical music composer Charles Ives wrote The Housatonic at Stockbridge as part of his composition Three Places in New England.

The town is mentioned in the James Taylor song "Sweet Baby James". ("The first of December was covered with snow, and so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston")

Onscreen

The final scene of the film Good Will Hunting, in which Will is seen driving on the highway, was filmed on the section of the Mass Pike in Stockbridge. (Citation: at the end of the credits, an overpass is labeled "Route 102 Stockbridge")

The town was the setting for the 1994-95 NBC sitcom Something Wilder starring Gene Wilder.

Images for kids


Stockbridge, Massachusetts Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.