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Williamstown Winter

Nice photos from the assistant innkeeper at the 1896 House, who is spending her first winter in Williamstown (click on photos to enlarge):

My First Williamstown Winter


Memories of the Purple Pub

Greetings Fellow Ephs!

My name is Fiona Moriarty and I am a current junior History and Art History major and I am in desperate need of your help! I am currently taking my junior seminar for history entitled Documentary practices by Professor Leslie Brown and the entire semester has been based around a group project. This group project was to document the history of an establishment on Spring Street and my group chose the Purple Pub. This is where your help comes in. We would really appreciate if you could either post (in the comments below) or email me (fmm1 at your memories of your times at the Purple Pub through the years. All memories good and bad and especially anything about the management, food or atmosphere are appreciated. These quotes will be used for our final project which is a website that will document the history of the building in a creative way. Email me with any questions, comments or photos, and just to reiterate, we sincerely appreciate your help!


(image credit to bloodbubb1e)


“The real Mayor of Spring Street”

Project webpage is up and running. It will be interesting to see what angle the Williams students take for this research? Judging from the pictures on the webpage… I think they are getting a feel for the larger metaphor.

Update: Sign up to follow the blog for the Real Mayor here. If you have “stories or anecdotes” to tell about the gas station or Art, the researchers are looking for input.


McClelland’s closes

The Transcript has some sad news for Spring Street:

McClelland’s in Williamstown closes doors

McClelland’s Stationery & Office Supplies has closed its store at 36 Spring St., ending 83 years of the company’s presence there.
Owner William Elder declined to give details of the closing on Tuesday, saying only that it did not do enough business and would not reopen. Elder did confirm that the North Adams McClelland’s on Main Street, which specializes in greeting cards and gifts, and McClelland’s Press on North Street in Williamstown would remain open.
He would not say whether the Spring Street location would be sold or offered for lease.

Link to full article.

In my day, McClelland’s was by far the best place in town to get school supplies and stationery. I’m guessing this means that students are now stuck buying from the Newsroom or Wal-Mart?

(h/t JeffZ)


About the purple noise

It cuts a lot deeper than a loud college party on Friday or Saturday night.

Beyond the ‘purple’ noise

…Though the relationship between the College and residents is a close one, the distinction between the two sharpens after dark. During the daytime, things seem peaceful and pleasant. Some Williamstown residents choose to audit classes, do some research and reading at the libraries or check out the newest exhibit at the College’s art museum. Residents speckle themselves in the crowds at home games, cheering on their Ephs. Throughout the year, students, faculty and staff spend their dime around town, sending a welcomed jolt to the local economy. The relationship appears positive, even harmonious, and definitely not abrasive or disruptive. Last Saturday, however, the noise complaint that placed a premature end to First Chance, a senior event that also doubles as a fundraising opportunity for other senior social events, exposed a split between what College students and the town’s residents deem as suitable and tolerable noise levels for certain social functions.


The confusion revolves around why residents would be consistently bothered to this point, given the supposedly open relationship between the town and the College. It would seem that an issue such as this should have already been addressed and an agreeable solution found. For students to offer advanced and proper notice about these events is only one step to solving this recurring problem altogether. When the Office of Campus Life authorizes events as these, it must give organizers sufficient and realistic information as to what exactly will fly in Williamstown, what will bring the police and what will not bring them. For Campus Life to do this at all, students and the town’s residents must first establish a lucid threshold for noise that balances students’ social wants with the town’s tolerance. Otherwise, this problem will continue to arise in the future, therein digging an unnecessary gap of distrust between the two parties…

A noise complaint is a limited venue to pick for this town v gown assessment… and the opinion shows a pretty deep lack of understanding in regards to the serious problems town residents face in Williamstown that are related to the college. I am not blaming this person, because he has been subjected to a rigorous propaganda campaign from the school that paints a rosy picture. No doubt he will be or is smart enough to recognize that propaganda as soon as he scratches the surface… so, the question: Has he scratched the surface, or is he too, taking part in the propaganda machine?

I suggest that students talk to some locals at places like cozy corners and the legion, look at college construction projects and purchases of land since the foundation of the college in order to get a sense of the real town gown problems in Williamstown- if there is a true interest in this topic as this political science major suggests?

Look at the make up of the town selectmen, and arguments that have been made at meetings and in the press about the lackluster and predatory nature college engagement with the town in the past.

I think if students like this one, who seems to have an interest,  made it outside of the campus, spoke with others, looked at the amount of business holdings Williams has in Williamstown (essentially a monopoly or trust) and then looked at taxes v land value (or lack of taxes in Williams’ case)… the problems of college encroachment on middle class business properties and homes in town center, the construction, the drastic increase in “temporary” hires for blue collar Williams jobs to save money on benefits, the faltering/ failing state of the local high school… combined with the void of “townie” 20-30 year olds in the population pyramid… political scince majors might be shocked to find it goes a lot deeper than a noise complaint at a college party, and that they have a serious venue for study right in front of them.

It’s the students choice. What kind of a political science major do students desire to be? Social scientist who support and defends the elite status quo or that enable the struggling classes within his society? I encourage any political science or sociology major to dig into this for a project. They might find, they have a vast previously untapped resource for study right in front of them.

[Edits by Ronit: paragraph breaks added, link to original Record article added]
[Edits by Will: Article exerpted]


Misc News from Speak Up

Again, for the purposes of archiving, here is a round-up of local and miscellaneous news recently posted on Speak up. Additional comments are welcome.

Read more


Not To Be Missed

100 office public affairs

(graphic copyright Williams Office of Public Affairs)

Three members of the Class of 2009 (Hillary Betchelder, Donald Molosi, and Amanda Montano) compiled a list of things their classmates recommend that current and prospective students do before leaving Williams. The Office of Public Affairs has made a poster posting. There are plenty of things visiting alums can catch up on, too.

You’ll see a lot of EphBloggers’ favorites: adventures on Stone Hill, apple cider donuts on Stoney Ledge on Mountain Day, taking a math class, playing broom ball, and taking a tutorial.

What would you add?


Talk Architecture To Me


One part of the Conversation I’ve always enjoyed the most, whether online or in person, has been the discussions of the architecture at Williams and in Williamstown. I desperately need a pick-me-up. Talk architecture to me. Come educate my eye. Pull up a chair. I’ll spot you to a round of virtual cold drinks.


First Impressions of Williams

By this I actually mean the campus, not the school generally (nor anything one would glean from the absurdity of recent Ephblog posts).  The previous, ahem, “discussion” about buildings and the various architectural styles, as well as running through the Facilities Property Book made me think about my first trip down Route 2 and into town.

I was coming from the Boston area and out along Route 2 in mid-late August.  Some bits of leaves were already beginning to change color, and I have to admit it was one of those picture perfect New England afternoons.  I loved the varied styles of the buildings, the (to my naive eyes) adorable quaintness of having essentially one street of business in town, the iconic Congo Church.  And as quick as anything, we were already through town and passing curving southward down toward the Clark.

I remember being charmed, intrigued, a bit surprised there weren’t more obvious “foresty” areas given that I had read about Hopkins Forest in the catalog (my recall of the campus map was less than perfect – hey, I was 16).

I forget where we stayed, but the woman recommended Hobson’s Choice for dinner; Mom & I had a  great dinner.  It remains one of my favorite Billsville restaurants.  The next morning we wandered around campus, shopped on Spring St. (had to get something from Goff’s of course), and had breakfast at the Cobble Cafe (sadly, no more).

What do any of you remember about your first trip to Williams?

Can I make this post take up any more space to move other things down the page?

Yes. ;)

** Portions of this may have appeared in an earlier comment to another post, I can’t remember.


Williamstown Update, Part Three

Stone Hill Center, rear patio view of conservation areas:


View from rear patio:



Williamstown Update, Part Two

Mark Paresky has received a lot of flack at times on this blog and from other critics of his role in Williamstown development.  But he certainly deserves kudos for obscuring the construction staging area located at the former Subway / Purple Pub location with this very attractive landscaping.  In some ways, I’d love to see this mini-park made permanent, but I imagine this real estate, once the economy improves, will be too attractive to remain barren.  There is still, however, a nice patch of green where the old American Legion building used to reside, and it would be great to see that currently under-utilized space spruced up in this fashion.


Among the many recent changes to Spring Street, I believe that almost all are a net positive.  The only one that perplexes me is the parking lot expansion.  I have no problem with the expansion itself, but it seems to include an odd excess of asphalt between the actual rows of spaces — anyone know the story there?  I feel like the lot could have been about a third smaller while accomodating the same number of cars.


Williamstown Update

In-progress construction photos of the future home of the Pub, among other businesses:


The interior space looks like it has a lot of character; if done right (which includes, in my mind, incorporating the same array of quirky Williams and region-related artifacts) this should be a fantastic bar space, far more spacious and attractive than the original Pub, without being antiseptic, the biggest fear I had when I first heard of a new location.  This is already an enormous building in terms of square footage, and from the looks of it, it will be far larger once completed (particularly in the rear).  I imagine it will be quite a challenge filling up all of that additional office and retail space.


Billsville Summer

Lots of features on Williamstown summer events of late: the L.A. Times published this lengthy article on touring Williamstown, complete with trip guide, feature on the theater festival, and a great photo series.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reviews two current exhibits at the WCMA, while the Advocate focuses on an exhibit at the Clark.


Williamstown Theatre Festival Is 55

vintage poster from Adams Memorial Theatre













and facing a shorter season than usual, mainly due to budget constraints, according to an article highlighting the approaching season and summarizing WTF’s history.

This is a shorter season than Williamstown audiences are used to — four Main Stage productions instead of five and only three in the Nikos instead of four. The season also is starting two weeks later than usual. And while available space at Williams College for the Festival’s technical and support staff is part of the reason for the late start, the chief reason is the sagging economy, Martin said.

“The only other options we faced were to either significantly trim our production budget or the size of our productions.

“It seemed to me that of all the options, this (a shorter season) was the least noxious.”



Playwright A. R. Gurney ’52 Brings It Home

photo credit Williamstown Theatre Festival

A. R. Gurney ’52 has a play, Children, on the boards at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

“It’s always a special pleasure for me to come back (to Williamstown),” Gurney said. “Williams was where I first discovered I wanted to be a playwright. (Stephen) Sondheim was two years ahead of me, and when he left the mantle fell on my puny shoulders. I couldn’t write a note of music, but I found people who could.”

More here on him and on his work.

Break a leg.

(photo credit Williamstown Theatre Festival)


The Mountaintop Gets Gussied Up










This article provides a lot of details about the plans for Bascom Lodge on top of Mt. Greylock. Parts of the lodge will open on July 1st. A community barbeque will fete the reopening on July 4th. As the article makes clear, what’s planned is not just a renovation but a restoration combined with considerable upgradings.

I was up there earlier this month, when they had a very long way to go. It’s not clear from the article and what I saw then whether the new lessees are just opening the cafe, or will have more of the lodge ready.

In addition to the cafe, the plans include an evening fine dining option (what a romantic option that could become), a shop purveying both hiker-type necessities and local crafts, and eventually reopening the lodging components. Hostel accommodations will be retained for hikers (including the Appalachian Trail long-distance types) but a large part of the lodging will be given over to more luxurious facilities meant to, and priced to, compete with local bed and breakfast and inn offerings. The rooms are being restored/renovated to a 1930s look (the lodge was built in that era by the Civilian Conservation Corps).

When the project is complete, the lodge will be available for weddings and conferences, in addition to general use by the public. The new lessees also plan to hold community cultural events there on Wednesday nights.

It’s a grand vision (with the Devil being in the details, as always). The principals, who have a 25-year lease, are a chef and a textile designer. I hope they succeed. It’s going to be hard in this economy, especially with a short season (the lodge will not be open in the winters), but it could take off into something very popular with the warm weather sets.

Maybe PTC will check it out for us when he’s back in the county next week.


Journey to the tri-state point

Last weekend found me in Northfield, MA, helping out at a race (where I saw Ross Smith ’05), so after the successful completion of said race, my boyfriend and I naturally drove over to Williamstown. Had I thought to pack a camera, I could have taken pictures to populate another hundred Photo IDs, but I didn’t, so you’ll have to settle for narrative (with one photo, below).

I decided that we would run along the Taconic Crest Trail and find the tri-state marker where MA, VT and NY come together. Though I had run the Taconic Crest Trail with the cross country team many times, I had never been to the tri-state point, which I had heard was not far off the trail. Since my boyfriend enjoys bushwhacking and county high-pointing, it seemed like the ideal afternoon adventure / long run.

MA-VT-NY tri-state marker

MA-VT-NY tri-state marker

We first went to the Mountain Goat, where we purchased the WOC guide to hiking around Williamstown, and the excellent WOC map of the area. The man working there was very chatty, and we left much more informed about long-distance biking journeys than we had been when we entered. (As we drove through the College, I also saw many more white-haired, purple-shirted men than I expected. Williams was deep into Reunion season. David Kane was there, but I didn’t know it until I got back.) We then proceeded to Petersburg Pass, where we parked, crossed the road, and began the run along the crest trail.

Read more


Sounds of Silence

WilliamstownJazzFestivalDue to budget-cutting at Williams, its major source of funding, the Williamstown Jazz Festival has ceased operation. The annual multi-day spring program had included music, dance, film, and an intercollegiate jazz competition, and was run as a collaboration amongst Williams, the Chamber of Commerce, MASS MoCA, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, with additional venues provided by St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Clark. Some events had free admission; others had an admission charge, but that did not bring in nearly enough to keep the festival going once Williams ended its subsidy.

For more about the festival, go here. (A link at the top of that site opens up a sampling that includes snatches from Williams jazz and gospel choir groups and a faculty jazz group.)

This is a true loss to Williams, to music groups from many colleges, and to Williamstown and the surrounding communities. I am grateful to the people who had the vision to start the Jazz Festival and to those who made it happen every year. My heart goes out to them and to the people who had the difficult task of deciding whether to continue the funding from Williams.

May more abundant times return soon.

(Thanks to Frank for alerting us to the festival’s demise via a post in in Speak Up!)


MASS MoCA shop?

UPDATE  – Turns out MASS MoCa has opened a shop on Spring Street (read below for details), but in the Images building, not at the former site of the cleaners. I’ll leave the photo of the cleaners’ old site up, anyway, in hopes of inspiring someone else to open a Spring Street business.

Kudos to MASS MoCA for pulling this off in time for reunion weekend. I hope that the store will have a strong beginning and a shiny future.


Original post (with an added link, thanks to Ronit):

Rumor has it that MASS MoCA may be opening a shop/information center here (the cleaners have moved to Rt. 2):

MASS MoCA store

Update from RB: The MoCA blog has more details.


Greylock from Stony Ledge

A YouTube video:

Greylock from Stony Ledge

sign on Bascom Lodge


Royals at Williams

Definitely check out this wild story on Fergie’s (the Dutchess, not the singer — although I am not sure which would be more surprising) visit to Williamstown.  If anyone has any updates on the results of this visit, the readership of this blog would certainly love to hear them.

*(I am glad I beat DK to this one, because God knows what non-sequitor finances-related rant this would prove an inspiration for).

UPDATE from DK: Material formerly here has been moved to this post.


A New Spring Street?

So I know the Spring Street construction projects have been discussed at length here on Ephblog, but it really sunk in for me when I walked down to Tunnel City for coffee last Saturday. Construction/demolition has started (including a gaping hole where Subway/Purple Pub used to be), and notices have been posted on a few storefronts warning of further changes. It’s a little unnerving to think that by the time I graduate, Spring Street could have a totally different feel than when I first got here. So today I went out with my (low-quality, sorry!) camera and documented a few of these changes for those who aren’t able to see for themselves.

What was formerly the Purple Pub/ A Perfect Blend/ Subway- now a pile of rubble

What was formerly the Purple Pub/ A Perfect Blend/ Subway- now a pile of rubble

The space in between Lickety Split and the George Hopkins store (formerly the Hopkins Funeral Home(?))

The space in between Lickety Split and the George Hopkins store (formerly the Hopkins Funeral Home(?))


Note the planned changes underneath the coming soon sign (sorry about the glare)



Bascom Lodge (on Mt. Greylock) “Curator” Chosen

BEAT News, an online Berkshire environmental newsletter, reports that Bascom Lodge on the top of Mt. Greylock will be rehabilitated and reopened by The Bascom Lodge Group, comprised of Berkshire natives John Dudek, Peter Dudek, and Brad Parsons. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has chosen the group as the “curator” for the lodge under DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program, pursuant to which curators agree to rehabilitate and reuse historic properties in exchange for a long-term lease.

The lodge has been closed for the last two seasons because of the summit road reconstruction project. The new curators hope to reopen it late this summer.

BEAT quotes the DCR Commissioner as saying, “The Bascom Lodge Group brings 25 years of experience in hospitality and restaurant management to this project. Members of the group plan to be on site, managing the property, hiring local craftsmen to do the restoration, even making breakfast pastries in the lodge.”

According to the article, The Bascom Lodge Group “plans to bring back the tradition of providing quality food, lodging, and services to park visitors….inspired by the lodge’s unique historical, architectural, and natural themes.”

They also plan to sponsor events and lectures on the natural and cultural history of the park and region, develop interpretive gardens and landscaping to highlight the summit’s vegetation, and collaborate with DCR staff on tours and programs.

The article further notes that “Bascom Lodge was built in the 1930s in the Arts and Crafts style. Approximately 150,000 people – a mix of tourists, hikers passing by along the Appalachian trail, local families, and day visitors – visit the lodge each season.”

I wish them well and very much hope that they can pull this off. The Greylock summit is a strange, unique, and often magical place.


Williamstown Development Update

Mixed news on the Williamstown development front.   First, the good news: the long awaited Hopkins Furniture Store renovation addition is finally about to get trucking.  This is fantastic news for the other merchants on lower Spring Street, as the area will now have another anchor building to match Tunnel City across the street, and any sort of positive development news in this economic climate is very welcome.  The bad news: no mention of the Purple Pub.  This building was supposed to hold both a Subway (mooted by a Subway coming to the former LisAsia space on Spring Street — and for the love of God, can they PLEASE go easy on the yellows especially on the exterior) and an expanded Pub.  I assume that the Pub is no longer reopening (or at least it is questionable), based on the fact that the restaurant space is still available?  That is terrible news — a true Williams institution.  I can only imagine that after being closed for two years, and in the current capital crunch, the Pub couldn’t gather the resources for a build out?  I hope some intrepid alum with fond memories of Fridays in the Pub provides financing, if that is indeed the obstacle.  Back to good news from this article — the burnt-out shell of the former Subway building is being demolished.  This building was always an eyesore even before it was boarded up, and having a one-story building in the heart of Spring Street — especially one with no historical or aesthetic value — was always a major missed opportunity.  Making this a green patch in the short run will be a major improvement, and hopefully, once the economy picks up, this can be developed to provide more prime commercial space as well as Spring Street apartments or offices.

Anyone know if the Cable Mills project is still on track despite the economy?  Water Street badly needs its own economic anchor, and Williamstown needs more housing, so this project is a win/win — turning an abandoned property into a high volume of very desirable housing without spoiling any of the Williamstown natural landscape, while providing an economic engine for oft-neglected Water Street businesses in the form of an exapanded proximate customer base.

One other bit of bad news, alas — the Photech Mill project near Cole Field — another win-win that was going to turn an abandoned, formerly contaminated property into a senior assisted living facility — now appears to be dead.  No huge surprise in this climate, but hopefully the town can find a replacement developer in the relatively near future, because as it stands this is an eyesore and a major waste of potentially productive space.


Stone Hill Center

Special thanks to “anon ’70” for this update on Stone Hill Center, the new addition to the Clark Art Institute. The article is a good read, and piqued my interest in the architect, Tadao Ando. Oodles of Google revealed a very interesting guy. Wikipedia says:

Ando has led a storied life, working as a truck driver and boxer prior to settling on the profession of architecture, despite never having taken formal training in the field.

Wow, a self-taught architect? Pretty unusual. Here’s Wikipedia, …as well as a more personal bio of him here…

…and yet another site with lots of visuals of his work.

I try to visit the Clark every time I’m in Williamstown, and look forward to seeing Stone Hill Center.


A Christmas Present for MCLA

More applications.

Students are applying to the state’s public colleges and universities in record numbers, as the nation’s financial crisis forces more families to consider less expensive schools. …

Framingham State and Westfield State colleges have seen more than 40 percent increases in applicants from this time a year ago, while the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams has seen a 60 percent jump. Early-action applications at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston have risen 75 percent.

Good news for Williams’ neighbors.  The article mentions, quite sensibly, that most of these colleges don’t have much of an ability to increase enrollment, so the effect will likely be a somewhat more select incoming class at MCLA.

Also, interesting data coming in on recession effects.

At Framingham State College, where applications for the fall and spring have risen to an unprecedented extent, more than one-third came from families making more than $100,000 annually.

“For a public college, that’s very surprising,” said Nick Figueroa, dean of undergraduate admissions at the college, where annual tuition and fees this year total $6,141. “You tend to see more middle-income families.”


Williamstown in Winter

Check out this nice Boston Globe travel feature on Williamstown in the winter.  I note that the Downtown Williamstown website has been nicely fleshed-out.  Anyone hear any scoop on the anticipated start date for the Subway / Purple Pub project?  Students have gone without cheap late night eats and the best off-campus bar for far too long.  I’m also curious to hear whether Paresky has annouced any plans for the former Subway building, which will be demolished at some point (hopefully sooner rather than later as it is quite an eyesore in the middle of downtown).  Considering that this was a hideous building and a waste of valuable Spring Street frontage as a single level-structure, anything that replaces it should be an upgrade.  Although I hope the architects follow the Tunnel City building model, rather than create another hideous suburban strip-mall wannabe like the Spice Root / Sushi Thai Garden building erected after the last major Spring Street fire.


Peanut Butter Pillows and Wilderness Fantasy Cookies

Courtesy of Laura ’92 (her flickr stream is here). Made by the Clarksburg Bakery baker. Are they still available?

UPDATE: The cookies, Chunky Cheese Bread, and other baked goods once sold at the late, lamented Clarksburg Bakery on Spring Street are made by former Clarksburg baker Jamie Ott at Cricket Creek Farm, a dairy farm with a farm store off Sloan Road in Williamstown, about a mile from the Store at Five Corners. The farm also produces artisanal cheeses (available for online purchase), pasture-raised beef, eggs, and milk, and has a barn space available as a small rental party place.

If you go to the farm’s website, you’ll see a list of stores (including Wild Oats, the co-op on Rt. 2) and restaurants that carry or use some of their items, as well as a weekly bread baking schedule.

Thanks to Tom Bernard ’92 for the heads up.


Breaking News – Soccer

photo copyright Williams College

The sleet came down but the Ephs triumphed. They will take on the College of New Jersey next weekend in the Sweet 16.

UPDATE: Williams will host the sectionals. In addition to the Williams-TCNJ match, Ithaca will play Lynchburg. All games will be available online FOR FREE at Teamline. These being NCAA games, there will be a small charge for attending in person at Cole Field.


Wintry Light

As winter approaches, one of the things I remember most from my time in Williamstown is the mesmerizing, ever-changing play of the light on the campus buildings and the Purple Valley mountains.

(copyright Dread Pirate Ruth; linked to her flickr stream)



(copyright Ledges; linked to her flickr stream)


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