A trip to the Rowe Historical Society, also called “Kemp-McCarthy Museum, is more than worth your time. While being a fan of history is always helpful when visiting a small town’s historical society, it’s not totally necessary at this one. The drive there and back is absolutely magnificent. Small country roads along a brook would be beautiful at any time of year, and that’s what you’ll enjoy getting yourself there and back from the Mohawk Trail in Western Massachusetts.
But once you’re there, what a delight. Today they had a special event to mark their 50th anniversary that I attended. Never having seen it before today, I can’t say what might be improved specifically. But, eavesdropping on the locals conversations clearly led me to believe that the exhibits have been overhauled, and rearranged to the delight of all. There are about 3 – 4 buildings connected – apparently all but some recent additions are old school houses. This, thus, creates “rooms.” Don’t be fooled by the virtual tour on their website – I don’t think the photos they have posted to justice to the tidy and inviting arrangement of their holdings.
One room is office and research space with quite a good collection of local history books and papers. One room shares a country store with a one room school house set up. Great artifacts for each compel you to put your hands in your pockets so you don’t reach out and read the school book or want to buy an old tin of crackers. The Sibley Room is a room designed to make you smile: “Childhood Memories” arranged by Helene Glass and other members exhibit an amazing collection of children’s toys of old, cradles, clothes for both young children and dolls, doll houses and much more. If you have no interest in history, you are guaranteed to find something you remember either you or your grandmother once owned. And, if not, you’ll still want to smile and tell your friend a story of a toy you did own once! The room is well arranged, easy to walk around, well-lit and easy to get close to read labels and admire.
The next space is called the Music Room and has a small, but wonderful collection of music making gadgets: instruments, wide up music boxes, and more. Since they were celebrating, there was a music box turning and playing – another reason to smile.
The next room had an amazing exhibit of Ladies Hats, garments, LPs ( you know what that is, don’t you?) and a nice case on a local company that mined sulphur for many years in the area. There was a special exhibit of “The Way we were in 1963.” I especially enjoyed this as we’d just seen an exhibit called “1968” in Philadelphia at the Constitution Center.
The other end of the building is an airy barn type space, added several years ago, and today was filled with musicians and cookies for the celebration!
You’ll enjoy this small, but exquisite town historical museum. You might even want to stroll up and down the country road before or after your stop here.