We finally broke free of Salem for the last weekend of Haunted Happenings—-in the nick of time! It’s just been such a busy month, but on Saturday we abandoned all of our responsibilities and drove west to the Connecticut River Valley to visit my husband’s cousins, who live in the delightful town of Montague. I have been driving through or by Montague for many years, but never really stopped to explore it—or so I thought: it turns out that Turners Falls, a semi- regular pit stop for when when driving west or back east, is actually a village of Montague, along with Montague Center, Montague “City”, Millers Falls, and Lake Pleasant. We spent most of our time in Montague Center, and never found the elusive Lake Pleasant. On a long walk through the countryside surrounding the Center, we came across a beautiful first-period house for sale, which once belong to a mutual acquaintance of all of us: while staring at its characteristic over-the-top (by Salem standards) Connecticut-River-Valley doorway, I briefly imagined life “out west”, away from the Witch City and its exploitative “attractions” and Halloween hordes but also (unfortunately) far from work, family, and the ocean—which my husband could not live without. Oh well.
A dreamy house—and former tavern—in Montague Center: listing here.
As you can see, Saturday was a beautiful day and we saw other wonderful houses (and many barns) as well, before lunching outdoors at a former mill and returning back to our cousins’ charming house—a former school and pocketbook factory— within which live FOUR cats (and a dog), and wonderful family heirlooms from Vienna arranged just so according to the wishes of their former owner. After indulging in cardamon-laced pastries on fine china (yes, we refugees were treated like royalty), we were off to Turners Falls, the largest of the Montague villages.
All around Montague Center: house & barns, the Book Mill, Valley cats, Viennese heirlooms, the Homestead.
I have stopped by Turners Falls over the years because it is unusual among Massachusetts towns (or villages, I should say), most of which have evolved organically. Turners Falls is a planned industrial settlement, the initiative of Fitchburg industrialist and railroad entrepreneur Alvah Crocker in the 1860s. Laid out on a grid, with harnessed hydropower, factory buildings and housing and very conspicuous tall-spired churches, Turners Falls has the look of an “ideal” industrial community, even as its factories are now vacant. It has a big broad Main Street, and most of its shops and restaurants seemed very much alive, but all I was interested in on this particular visit was the workers’ housing—mostly brick rowhouses in varied states of repair. They were all striking in their efficient design, but it was their conditions which were so curious, like those below with the boarded-up windows and their recently-painted red stoops!
Turners Falls, 1877, Digital Commonwealth ( I don’t think all of those streets were filled out!); the fast-flowing river after the Falls; workers’ housing. On the way home, the French King Bridge over the Connecticut River.
October 28th, 2019 at 6:41 am
Just looking at these photos makes me happy. Thanks, Donna, for sharing another wonderful New England excursion with us.
October 28th, 2019 at 7:29 am
You’re welcome, Isabella! Lovely area–lots to see!
October 28th, 2019 at 7:32 am
What a wonderful getaway! I’m in love with the houses!!!!
October 28th, 2019 at 9:27 am
Looks nice and peaceful out there…sigh
October 28th, 2019 at 10:13 am
October 28th, 2019 at 11:24 am
THAT house! OMG. When I first saw the photo of the entry door I thought you had done a side trip to Deerfield. What a find. The library! Makes my heart sing. Also loved all the other photos, especially the antique curtains.
You really should reconsider….
October 28th, 2019 at 11:41 am
If it was just me…………
October 28th, 2019 at 4:03 pm
These were the haunts of Judge Francis M. Thompson while he was young and old. The Judge wrote of his western jaunt where he traveled through the country to the west coast, and back. None of that lazing on deck with the wind doing the work. Along the way back, he helped found Montana and was remembered as a Tenderfoot. He presented his memoir as a series in The Massachusetts Magazine which was published from Salem, MA from 1908 to 1918.
This post has an index to archive.org’s copy of the periodical’s series by the Judge.
Along with 1st cuz Dr. Frank A. Gardner, those involved were T. F. Waters, Col. T. W. Higginson, F.B. Sanborn, A. W. Dennis, and others. As illustrious of a list as that of The Atlantic Monthly. Sidney Perley’s work was picked up by Lucie M. Gardner (Frank’s sister) who published it in the TMM.
October 28th, 2019 at 4:09 pm
Thanks, I love the Massachusetts Magazine!
October 29th, 2019 at 5:17 am
Hi Donna, thanks for sharing your autumnal jaunt to Montague, a lovely area of our state that most of us do not visit enough. I just love those Connecticut Valley doorways, definitely reminiscent of Deerfield.
Also, kudos on being chosen a commissioner on Essex Heritage. Good work – read it on the Patch.
October 29th, 2019 at 2:13 pm
That’s a nice reminder to me of the years I spent out in the Valley as a grad student, as we had a car in those days and got up to the various parts of Montague for business or pleasure. One of the few spiritualist churches in Massachusetts is there in Lake Pleasant, if you by chance get by that way again. For that matter, this weekend is Franklin County Cider Days: https://www.ciderdays.org
October 29th, 2019 at 2:37 pm
Lake Pleasant was the one village we couldn’t find!