The Bidwell House Museum Lands are now preserved!

The Bidwell House Museum is thrilled to begin 2022 with the announcement that 180 acres of the Museum property have now been preserved! The Museum is deeply indebted to Lew and Joyce Scheffey, whose Turkeybush Foundation provided $300,000 for the preservation; and to the Berkshire Natural Resources Council and the Monterey Preservation Land Trust, which will co-hold the Conservation Restriction. We are so grateful to the MPLT for their long stewardship of the Scheffey gift and this preservation could not have happened without the resources and assistance of both BNRC and MPLT. In 2007, when Joyce and Lew Scheffey dissolved the Turkeybush Foundation, they donated several properties and $300,000 to the Monterey Preservation Land Trust. At the suggestion of Jonathan Sylbert, president of MPLT since 2001, MPLT offered to use the $300,000 toward the purchase of a Conservation Restriction on the Bidwell House property, thus preserving the grounds and surrounding land. “After stewarding the Scheffey’s donation for 14 years, I’m so pleased to see this Conservation Restriction become a reality,” said Mr. Sylbert. “The Bidwell House Museum and its lands now have a more secure future for all of us to enjoy.” The funds received as part of the new Conservation Restriction will help provide financial security to the Museum and ensure its longevity, a beneficial outcome for the Museum, the town of Monterey, and local land preservation.

Part of the Bidwell House Museum’s mission is to provide visitors with a personal encounter with history. The long-term preservation of the Museum property will allow visitors, residents of the Berkshires, and neighbors in the town of Monterey to enjoy the beautiful and unspoiled grounds in perpetuity. In addition to Rev. Adonijah Bidwell’s gracious 1760s home, the acres of forests and fields around the house contain the remains of important historical sites, including cellar holes from the home of the early residents of Tyringham (which later split to become Monterey); the site of the original Meetinghouse where Reverend Bidwell preached his sermons; the remains of the Boston-Albany Post Road; and many more relics. In addition, the Museum property is part of the ancestral homeland of the Mohicans. Preserving this landscape allows the Museum to continue telling the Mohican’s long over-looked history while also allowing visitors to imagine Mohican lifeways long ago as well as appreciating their ongoing presence here in the Berkshires.

The Bidwell House Museum is also an important site for outdoor recreation here in Monterey. Hikers, walkers, nature lovers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers have access to 6 miles of trails, including the recently opened Loom Brook Trail, that are open for free year-round, a resource that adds joy to the local quality of life and something the Museum is happy to share. This Conservation Restriction will protect the land around the Museum from development, guaranteeing that the property will be accessible to all for generations to come.

BNRC’s President, Jenny Hansell, says, “We are so thrilled to have helped ensure this land is protected in perpetuity. Partnerships with organizations like Bidwell House and the MPLT is what makes it possible to keep the Berkshires green, and ensure public access to some of the most beautiful spots in the County.”