Heath Historical Society

P.O. Box 698, Heath, MA 01346


Old Town House in Summer, Heath Center

Old Town House in Summer, Heath Center

The Heath Historical Society is one of the oldest historical societies in Western Massachusetts.  The history of the Heath Historical Society (HHS) is indelibly linked with the Old Town House built in 1834 by David Snow as a result of the Massachusetts Legislature’s passing the 11th Amendment to the State’s Constitution separating church and state. Town meetings were held there until about 1897. In 1898 and 1899 there were proposals to sell the Old Town House, but there were stirrings in town to establish a historical society led by Flora and Mary White. At a Town Meeting on November 7, 1899, it was voted to perpetually lease the “Old Town House” to a proposed historical society as soon as such society should be formed. With this incentive the Heath Historical Society was founded on August 11, 1900 with 10 Charter Members.

The Town then leased the Old Town House to the Society on August 31, 1901, for a period of 199 years. The Society filed for incorporation with the State and on August 18, 1902 the application was approved. An organizational meeting of the Heath Historical Society was held at the home of Miss Mary Abby White on June 23, 1902 to adopt a Constitution and Bylaws and to elect officers. The Constitution provided that Annual Meetings were to be held in July or August, a practice continued to the present day. The first Annual Meeting to be held in the Old Town House occurred on August 21, 1903.


The Heath Historical Society Inc. is a 501C3 not-for-profit corporation and is staffed entirely by volunteers. The purpose of the Society is the preservation of the Old Town House, the Center Schoolhouse, the Solomon Temple Barn and the Fort Shirley site; the collection, preservation and safekeeping of any and all articles of historical interest connected with the Town of Heath; acquiring, protecting, identifying  and marking historical sites in town; encouraging historical research and the publication of its results; special attention is paid to cooperation with the public schools  for educating the youth about the history of the town; preserving documents, relics, and individual records of the patriots and early settlers of the town; and maintaining a place where relics, documents and historical records related to the town may be seen and studied by the public.


President – Ned Wolf * Vice President – Nancy Thane * Treasurer – Kara Leistyna* Secretary – Hilma Sumner  * Curator – Christine Luis-Schultz
Directors — Claire Rabbitt, Buck DenOuden, and two vacancies

Events coming soon! Stay tuned.

Mrs. Emerson

Check out the article from the Greenfield Recorder, July 18, 2014 ”Dining with History: Always up for a good potluck, Heath residents also serve up tasty stories”  @ www.recorder.com

June 3, 2017 - Dining With History — Theme: Schoolhouses in Heath


Today, in addition to the Old Town House, the Society’s properties include the one room Center Schoolhouse built in 1867 and purchased from the town in 1970 for the sum of $1.00; the 18th century Solomon Temple Barn that was donated by the Rev. & Mrs. Richard Gary, moved from Avery Brook Road, and reassembled at the Heath Fairgrounds in 1994-5; and the site of Fort Shirley, located on Hosmer Road.

The Fort was built in 1744 to serve as headquarters for the line of forts during the French and Indian War. No visible signs of it remain, except for a small marker on the grave of the military chaplain’s seven-year-old daughter Anna Norton, who died there in 1748 of an unidentified illness. The fort ceased operation in 1749.

The land was purchased and donated to the newly formed Society by Felicia Emerson Welch in 1910. Today the actual site of the fort is bounded by a split-rail fence and there are informational signs and benches to accommodate visitors and picnickers.

The Society’s three museum buildings are open by appointment and during the summer at announced times. For more information please contact the Curator at  413-337-4778 or email to heathhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.

Note: The Solomon Temple Barn Museum is open during the three days of the Annual Heath Fair in August. Next Fair - celebrating 100 years August 18, 19 & 20, 2017.


Inside the Solomon Temple Barn, Heath Fairgrounds

Inside the Solomon Temple Barn, Heath Fairgrounds

The Society’s museum buildings house a wide variety of artifacts and farming implements reminiscent of Heath’s long agricultural background. On display in the Old Town House are a pewter flagon and plate donated to the town by the Revolutionary War General William Heath, for whom the town was named. In addition, there are manuscripts, fragile documents, photographs and drawings of early Heath families.

The Center Schoolhouse contains school artifacts and furniture and even a small library of genealogical and historical information available to researchers.

The Solomon Temple Barn Museum exhibits hundreds of farm tools, equipment and machinery as well as trapping gear. A fine collection of looms and other weaving accessories are also on display.


Solomon Temple Barn at the Heath Fairgrounds

Solomon Temple Barn at the Heath Fairgrounds

The Society has a number of publications for sale that are relative to Heath. They can be purchased at the Solomon Temple Barn during the Heath Fair in August, or ordered from the Curator at 413-337-4778 or email heathhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. The publications include:

1. Along the Mohawk Trail: A Feast of Fall Foliage and Spectacular Hill Towns. By David J. McLaughlin and Laren Bright.  Pentacle Press, 2006. $10.00

2. Benedict Arnold: A Novel. By William J. Wolf. Paideia Pubs., 1990.  $15.00

3. The Book of Heath: Bicentennial Essays. Susan B. Silvester, editor. Paideia Pubs., 1985. $10.00

4. Centennial Anniversary of the Town of Heath, Mass., August 19, 1885. Edited by Edward P. Guild. Advertiser Pub. Co., 1885. (Reprinted 2007). $15.00

5. The Christian Patriot: Some Recollections on the Late Col. Hugh Maxwell of Heath, Mass. Collected and Preserved by a Daughter. S.W. Benedict & Co., 1833. (reprinted 2007). $15.00

6. Descriptive Catalog of the Books and Periodicals in the Heath Historical Society Collection. By Margaret E.C. Howland. H.H.S., 1996. $8.00

7. The Heath Bicentennial, 1785-1985. Susan B. Silvester, editor. Paideia Pubs., (2007). $10.00

8. Heath Gravestone Records. Compiled by Newland Smith. 3rd printing, H.H.S., 1997. $15.00

9. Heath Historical Society Newsletter (annual).  Free.  The newsletter is published once a year in July. It is distributed to members of the society as a free information service. We welcome news items from our members. Send all correspondence to: The Heath Historical Society, P.O. Box 698, Heath, MA 01346.

10. Heath, Massachusetts: A History and Guidebook. By Edward Calver. 3rd Edition. H.H.S., 2009. $30.00

11. The Line of Forts: Historical Archaeology on the Colonial Frontier of Massachusetts. By Michael D. Coe. U. Press of New England, 2006. $20.00

12. Martha’s People: Elmer, Ward, Rugg, & Allen Ancestors in Ashfield & Heath, Mass., 1750s to 1880s. By Judy Keller Fox. 2001.$10.00

13. Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the Town of Heath, Mass., August 25-29, 1935: Addresses, Speeches, Letters, Statistics. Edited by Howard Chandler Robbins. H.H.S., 1935. $7.00

14. A Snippet from the Greatest Generation: A Memoir by David F. Howland. 3nd ed. 2010. $12.00

NOTE: All orders must be prepaid and must include a $3.00 shipping and handling charge per book. Send orders to:  The Heath Historical Society, P.O. Box 698, Heath, MA 01346.


Center Schoolhouse in Winter

Center Schoolhouse in Winter

The Society has produced a series of beautiful note cards depicting watercolor scenes of Heath, painted by local artist Frederick Burrington.  A sixth generation native of Heath, Fred has painted scenes from the surrounding area since 1984.  He started painting landscapes, expanded to house portraits and agricultural scenes, and now works in oil and a range of water-based media.  His artwork celebrates the landscape that he grew up in.

Packets of cards are available by writing to P.O. Box 698, Heath, MA 01346.  A packet of 5 cards costs $10.00 plus $1.30 for shipping.  A packet of 10 cards costs $16.00 plus $1.90 for shipping.

The Society also has available for purchase, Patterns of Life, Adult Coloring Book including line drawings of some of our artifacts from our collection. Photos and Coloring page designs by C. Luis-Schultz. Cost is $12/copy. The Heath Historical Society is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. We are primarily supported through donations and membership dues and through the sale of our note cards, coloring books, publications, etc.


Membership in the Society is open to any and all individuals that support our purposes. Dues are as follows: Junior: $5 per year; Regular (Individual): $20 per year; Contributing (Individual): $50 per year; Family: $75 per year; Patron (Individual): $100 per year; Col. Hugh Maxwell (Family) $250 per year; Life: $1,000 one-time payment.  For an application please write to: The Heath Historical Society, P.O. Box 698, Heath, MA 01346, or call 413-339-4015.  Your support is greatly appreciated!

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