Hebert Arboretum at Springside Park
413-441-7922 / SpringsideNow@gmail.com
Pittsfield, MASS: The historic Springside House will once again be open to the public this summer, for a limited series of gallery hours prior to the Hebert Arboretum's weekly Tuesday night concert series, from Tuesday, July 23 to Tuesday, August 20, so that more area residents can get to see the popular "Open Spaces" exhibit of Pittsfield's park history.
In "Open Spaces: A century in Pittsfield's parks and recreational life," visitors can view artifacts and images spanning a lifetime's worth of outdoor recreation, local athletics, and park management. Trophies and plaques representing six decades of championships and local competitions are featured, as well as collections of memorabilia from teams, clubs, and beloved park activities, such as programs and buttons spanning the entire 65+ year history of the Winter Carnival.
The exhibit features vintage DPR uniforms and equipment, open space maps and planning documents, century old Parks Commission minutes, and even mid- century antiques from the days when local Civil Defense was headquartered in the Springside House.
Open Spaces includes a curation of photographs, many never before seen by the public, charting the powerful and fundamental role that outdoor activities have played in the life of the community. Ranging from professional photography to stunning candids taken by Parks personnel, these images convey a very different, pre-modern era of Pittsfield's outdoor life, where tens of thousands hit the streets to see the massive Halloween parade floats, where 40s sedans packed the lots to swim at Pontoosuc's thriving beach, teens danced on the porch of Springside House and youth from different parks competed against each other monthly in doll shows, costume contests and other outdoor activities. Many of the photos were taken by William Plouffe, a longtime former Berkshire Eagle photographer and former president of the Berkshire Museum Camera Club.
This exhibit was the result of an inter-organizational effort as part of the city's co-sponsorship of the all day event celebrating National Get Outdoors Day on June 8, and is being reopened to the public for a limited time due to high demand. It was co-curated by James McGrath, Parks, Open Spaces and Natural Resources Manager for the City of Pittsfield; Joe Durwin, a Historian Archivist for the Friends of Springside Park, and Karin Gradziel, an intern volunteer for the Vincent J. Hebert Arboretum.
The exhibit will be on display in the foyer and main office of the Springside House from 5:30-6:45 the next five Tuesdays: July 23- August 20 preceding concerts on the lawn of the house sponsored by the Vincent J. Hebert Arboretum.
The Springside House, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008, was christened Elmhurst in 1860 as the house of Abraham Burbank, and then occupied by the Davol family from 1872 to 1904, then as a summer residence for Clarence and Hannah Stevens until the mid 1930s. By 1941, the property had become a part of Springside Park and the re-dubbed Springside House served as headquarters for the city's Parks and Recreational Department until 2007, acting as a busy hub of social activities, meetings, and offices and storage for numerous local sports teams, athletic clubs and outdoor organizations. In June, the City of Pittsfield received a Massachusetts Historic Commission to investigate possibilities for its restoration and reuse.