P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2001
November 10, 2001
MASS MoCA Celebrates North Adams' History December 1
"Joe Manning has assembled a first-rate panel to examine the issues surrounding the renewal of North Adams, and we're sure that a lively discussion will ensue," said Jonathan Secor, MASS MoCA's director of performing arts. "Our panelists have deep local knowledge of the city and are uniquely qualified to explore the changes over the past half dozen years." As Yankee Magazine reported in their October 2001 issue, "Starting in 1969 and over the course of three years, wrecking balls leveled more than 100 buildings pulverizing the heart of North Adams. All the old-timers would stand out on the sidewalk and watch it. They thought that when the buildings came down it was going to bring new life to the city." It wasn't until about 15 years later that they realized what had happened and it was too late then.
On July 21, 1996, three years before MASS MoCA opened, Joe Manning and his wife drove two hours from their home in Torrington, Connecticut, to see an art exhibition only to discover that the article they had read gave the wrong date. Instead of driving directly home they spent an afternoon discovering the city and talking to the locals. Manning recalls that one storeowner lamented the city's decline but referred to the planned museum, claiming, "we're on our way back now." Fifteen months later Manning's first book, Steeples: Sketches of North Adams, was published. It is now in its second printing and has been used as a text for several Williams College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts courses. He has recently published his second book, Disappearing into North Adams. Manning created oral history projects in the North Adams public schools and has helped plan and run Neighborhood EXPO, an all-day interactive celebration of North Adams neighborhoods and history sponsored by the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. Yankee Magazine says, "Joe likes looking through other people's eyes and there he has found something beautiful." According to Roadside Magazine, "Every American town should be fortunate enough to have a chronicler as devoted and creative as Joe Manning."
Panelist Lew Cuyler's expertise in North Adams comes from years of the careful observation of a journalist. Cuyler worked for The North Adams Transcript almost continuously from 1959 until 1980. He witnessed firsthand the glory days of the Sprague Electric Company when the buzzing factory employed some 4,000 workers as well as the infamous Sprague strike in 1970 and the gradual downsizing in the late 1970s and early '80s. As business reporter, then business editor, for the Pittsfield, Massachusetts-based Berkshire Eagle from 1987 until 1995 he also covered North Adams' darkest days after Sprague closed in 1985 when unemployment soared and many Main Street shops shut their doors. An expert in local history, Cuyler was instrumental in the development of the Western Gateway Heritage State Park and the North Adams Historical Society. Currently, Cuyler lives in Pittsfield with his wife and is the president and founder of the Berkshire Rowing and Sculling Society (BRASS).
Charles L. Flint has been an art and antiques dealer for 36 years. He researches, writes, and lectures on local Berkshire County history and is a nationally known appraiser, arbitrator, and broker, having worked for the Berkshire Museum, Norman Rockwell Museum, Arrowhead (Berkshire Historical Society), the Edith Wharton Restoration at the Mount, and the Williamstown Regional Conservation Laboratory at the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute. His expertise is in early American furniture, both country and formal, and as director of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village Museum for three years he authored a book on their Shaker furniture collection. Today he lives in Lenox, Massachusetts, and is currently president of the Lenox Historical Society.
Born and raised in North Adams, Shirley Davis graduated from Drury High School, then worked in the purchasing department at Sprague for a few years before leaving the workforce to raise a family. As a resident of Bracewell Avenue for 48 years, Davis has literally had a front row seat for the transformation of the former Sprague Electric Company into MASS MoCA. From 1993 to 1999 she worked for the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and is now a member of their Board. She is a former board member of the North County Community Development Corporation and Northern Berkshire Community Action and has been involved in a local neighborhood group, UNO (United Neighborhood Organization), since its beginning in 1990.
Carl Robare was born in the Braytonville section of North Adams in 1923 and from age six grew up in the Briggsville section of Clarksburg. He graduated from Drury High School in 1942, served in the Army and then spent 31 years as a technician with the New England Telephone Company until his retirement in 1984. A resident of Stamford, Vermont, for the last 48 years he has been a member of MASS MoCA since its inception. Robare has a serious layman's interest in all the sciences and is active in many crafts and endeavors.
Tickets for Renewal, Regret and Rebirth in North Adams on Saturday, December 1, are $5 and are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located on Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. Wednesday through Monday (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located on Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
For Immediate Release