The Belchertown Historical Association exists to preserve historical artifacts pertaining to the Town of Belchertown; to maintain the Stone House Museum; and to foster knowledge of and interest in the history of Belchertown by opening the Museum to the public and by offering educational programs, lectures and events.
The organization was founded in 1903 and is managed by a Board of Trustees, elected each Spring at the Association’s Annual meeting. The town of Belchertown has a long and rich history – a story worth learning about today and of preserving for generations to come.
The Belchertown Historical Association
The BHA was founded during March, 1903, “for the preservation and exhibition of articles of historic interest on account of age or association with the past history of the town.” The first members set April 28th as the date for the annual meeting of the association, this being the date of the first legal town meeting in 1740. The association very soon secured the use of a room in the basement of the Clapp Memorial Library for exhibition of its rapidly growing collection. There was a great deal of interest in preserving the early records and historical artifacts of the town.
Mrs. Harriette Dwight Longley, one of the first Trustees, on her death in 1908 left her estate to furnish and maintain a permanent home for the Historical Association. This was used to purchase the Stone House which was occupied for that purpose in 1922. This home was originally built in 1827 by Jonathan Dwight as a wedding gift for his daughter Julia Diantha. Until it was acquired by the Association, it remained in related branches of the Dwight family for nearly a century.
The Ford Annex, which houses carriages and other horse drawn vehicles, was built through the generosity of Henry Ford and dedicated in 1924. The printing office and equipment of Lewis Blackmer, editor and publisher of the Belchertown Sentinel was added later to the grounds.
The Stone House Museum contains superb examples of furniture, china and decorative accessories made in the 1700’s and 1800’s. Its textile collection contains samplers, early crewel work, linens, quilts and an extensive selection of period clothing. The archives contains a collection of early town and church documents, diaries, manuscripts, ledgers, genealogical records, military records, records of town organizations, early business establishments and a large collection of photographs. History lives in the records of the past. The Association still continues to pursue its original mission in collecting and preserving the history of Belchertown.
President: Thomas Stockton
Vice President: Randi Shenkman
Vice President: Denise Smith
Secretary: Sally Shattuck
Treasurer: Maureen Austin
Many thanks to ALL the dedicated members (current and past) who have served on the board!!
The Annual Meeting of the BHA
The “Call to the Meeting” of the Belchertown Historical Association is held on the 28th day of April in each year, or as close to this date as possible, as determined by the Trustees. (The 28th day of April 1740 was the date of the first legal meeting ever held in Cold Spring.) At this meeting, members of the association elect Trustees and Offices of the Board; vote on any changes to the By-Laws and discuss any other business as is put forth on the agenda.
About Belchertown, MA
A summary of the history of the Town of Belchertown originally written in 1960 by Kenneth A. Dorey was revised in 2005 by Shirley Bock, Doris Dickinson and Dan Fitzpatrick specifically for the Town of Belchertown web site. Included are the following sections:
I. THE BEGINNINGS
II. EARLY SETTLEMENT
III. THE EARLY DAYS
IV. THE TOWN GROWS
V. EARLY INDUSTRY
VI. MILITARY HISTORY
VII. NOTABLE PEOPLE
VIII HISTORIC HOMES
IX. PLACES OF INTEREST
X. EDUCATION THROUGH THE YEARS
XI. BELCHERTOWN STATE SCHOOL
XII. BELCHERTOWN WATER DISTRICT
XIII. BELCHERTOWN SEWER DISTRICT
Doris Mae (Hawkins) Dickinson
3/15/1925 – 2/20/15
Doris Dickinson did just about everything at one time or another at the Stone House Museum. If a job needed doing, she stepped in and did it, from buildings and grounds to painstaking research for special projects. In her later years she loved the documents and the archives, which the Trustees named in her honor when she moved; they are now the “Doris Dickinson Archives” at the Stone House Museum. Her enduring dedication to our Association, and her love for our town’s history and our museum have been an inspiration to me for as long as I can remember; through her tireless perseverance and diligence she left a lasting legacy that will endure for generations. Since her passing, every stone of the house and grounds and every picket of the fence seem to want to tell of some positive contribution she effected. We mourn her passing and remember and celebrate the difference she made in all our lives.
She did many good works in the different areas of the community that she was involved in, and really made a tangible, lasting, positive difference in the world around her. She will be sorely missed.
James W. Chevalier
11/24/1944 – 6/8/2013
Jim Chevalier was a valued long-time board member, past president, supporter, mentor and friend. His enduring dedication to our Association and his love for our town’s history and our museum have been an inspiration to many for as long as we can remember. Since his passing, every corner and stone of the house and grounds seem to want to tell of some positive contribution he effected. We mourn his passing and remember and celebrate the difference he made in all our lives.