Historic Northampton

April 2023 Events

Composite photograph of Main Street, Northampton, MA, circa 1865 & 2019

Exploring Northampton

A Walking Tour of Main Street

with Historic Northampton Co-director Elizabeth Sharpe

Saturday, April 15, 2023 | 9 am

Kinney Shoes and Ann August, Main Street, Northampton

Since the 1650s, Northampton’s Main Street has been a crossroads, marketplace, town center, and public square. The first store opened in 1769 where Thornes Marketplace is now. It was across the street from the meetinghouse and tavern. The Victorian Main Street we see today was mostly built between 1865 and 1900 with a self-consciousness about “how we look” as a town.


As we walk from Historic Northampton to the Academy of Music, we will discuss the history of architecture and underlying ideas about social order, civic pride, preservation, and the importance of public gathering space.

Pre-registration is required.

Limited to 18 participants.

Sliding scale admission: $10 to $25.

Learn More | Register

The History of the Rail Trail in Florence

A Walking Tour with Craig Della Penna

Wednesday, April 26, 2023 | 6 - 7:30 pm

Wednesday, May 10, 2023 | 6 - 7:30 pm

Northampton was one of the first cities in the nation to convert a portion of its abandoned railroad bed into a linear park. Now nearing its fortieth year, that three-mile section, which is located between King Street and Look Park, is named the Ryan Bikeway, but commonly referred to as “the bike path.” 

Over the decades, this section has become a favorite route for walkers and bicyclists of all ages. On this walking tour, Craig Della Penna, a bike path expert and local historian, will share some of the remarkable railroad and industrial history that exists in the one-mile stretch between downtown Florence and Look Park.

Co-sponsored by the Friends of Northampton Trails and the Norwottuck Network.

Pre-registration is required.

Limited to 25 participants.

Sliding scale admission: $10 to $25 per person.

Learn More & Register

Life in Florence's Utopian Community, 1843-1846:

The Stetson Family Letters

A Zoom Presentation by Dr. Christopher Clark

Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Connecticut

Thursday, April 27, 2023 at 7 pm

Letters from an American Utopia bookcover

In 1842, radical abolitionists opposed to slavery founded a utopian community called The Northampton Association of Education and Industry in Florence. Their goal was to create a society in which “the rights of all are equal without distinction of sex, color or condition, sect or religion.”


The Stetson family from Brooklyn, Connecticut, joined the NAEI in 1843. Their letters (now at Historic Northampton) contain rich details and personal thoughts of community life, work, education and reform. Glimpses of Sojourner Truth, David Ruggles, and other leading figures of the Community appear throughout the correspondence. Transcriptions of the letters were published in the book Letters from an American Utopia: The Stetson Family and the Northampton Association, 1843-1847, edited by Christopher Clark and Kerry W. Buckley, 2004.

Dr. Clark's presentation will include the live “voices” of Dolly Stetson (read by Mary Beth Brooker) and her teenaged daughter Almira Stetson.

Register for the Zoom link.

Sliding scale admission: $5 to $25.

Students: Free of charge.

Learn More | Register

Composite image, designed by Helen Riegle, of Main Street featuring a carte-de-visite card photograph circa 1865 by the Ingraham Brothers and a 2019 photograph depicting the same view by photographer Paul Shoul.

Kinney Shoes and Ann August Clothing Store, Main Street, Northampton, MA, photographed by Harvey Finison, circa 1974.

View of the Ryan Bikeway - "the bike path" - in Florence, MA.

Bookcover, Letters from an American Utopia: The Stetson Family and the Northampton Association, 1843-1847, edited by Christopher Clark and Kerry W. Buckley (UMass Press, 2004).

46 Bridge Street
Northampton, MA 01060

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