Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hadley's 350th

Beginning the "Save Hadley!" blog in 2009 certainly was auspicious, this being the 350th anniversary of the town's founding (but it wasn't incorporated until 1661). For those of you interested, Hadley is having several 350th anniversary celebrations throughout the year. The official website is here, and there's all kinds of information available. Take a look!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum Opens Today!

The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum, a seasonal historic house museum in Hadley, opens today for the summer. This museum contains a remarkable collection of artifacts from one huge extended family that lived in Hadley since 1659, and in this house from 1752 until the middle of the 20th century. And not only did the family amass a whole lot of interesting furniture, china, textiles, and other objects--they left behind a treasure trove of written material, too, which has been invaluable to social history studies done about the area. Elizabeth Porter-Phelps, the daughter of Moses Porter, who built the house, kept a diary for a few decades the late-18th to early-19th centuries, which has proved an invaluable contribution to women's history of the period. The museum sells a book about her diary called Earthbound and Heavenbent: Elizabeth Porter-Phelps and Life at Forty Acres by Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle. It's worth a read if you're interested in this sort of thing. You can also read a facsimile of the diary itself in the Amherst College Archives.

This post might be a bit similar to one I posted last month about the museum, but I really do love this place and it really need your support to stay open. The 1-hour tours are a measly $5 and you can see a house that looks as if a the family just got up and left sometime around 1800. It's really a time capsule worth seeing.

I'll certainly post more about PPH in the future. It's located at 130 River Drive in Hadley, MA (River Drive is Route 47), about 2 miles north of Route 9.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hadley Grass--Asparagus!

An article in Saveur caught my attention the other day when I noticed that it was about "Hadley Grass". That would be asparagus, for those of you in the know. I wasn't, to be honest, but I figured out why when I kept reading: Hadley, with its excellent soil, produced some of the finest asparagus in the country for much of the 20th century until a fungus all but killed the roots of the crop back in the 1970s (before I was born). Asparagus is still grown in the area, but not on the scale that it once was. David Nussbaum, the writer of this article, does a fantastic job of describing Hadley and its farmers and the asparagus legacy.

Since Hadley's asparagus crop is no longer huge, today the vegetable is mostly sold at local farm stands and stores. So, while asparagus is still in season, go out and buy it at farm stands! I bet it's delicious. I know my family's (grown in Granby) is.

P.S.--Does anyone remember road signs that read "Welcome to Hadley--Asparagus Capital of the World"? I'd love to see a photo if anyone has one!