About the Historical Society

In 1895 the women’s Monday Club met to discuss preserving the site of Fort Massachusetts. On November 23, 1895, the ladies of North Adams published an issue of The Hoosac Valley News that was written and edited entirely by the women of the City. This fundraiser brought in more than $1,000 and enabled the women to purchase the site of Fort Massachusetts. The deed was issued to the Fort Massachusetts Historical Society.

On August 19, 1933, a dedication ceremony was held for the replica of Fort Massachusetts. The Fort Massachusetts Historical Society operated a museum until sometime in the 1940s when it closed due to vandalism and lack of funds. The local history artifacts, including the Fort relics were stored in the North Adams Public Library and eventually the collection was donated to the City of North Adams.

From the close of the Fort Massachusetts Historical Society until 1971, North Adams had no active historical society. In 1971, the Hoosac Tunnel Centennial Committee formed to plan a celebration for a commemoration of the completion of the Hoosac Tunnel. The 4 3/4 mile tunnel through the Hoosac Mountain allowed trains direct, easy access from Boston to New York. After that celebration, local people organized and brought a train car to North Adams to start the Hoosac Tunnel Museum where visitors could come to learn more about the history of the Tunnel. This was the beginning of the Hoosac Tunnel Museum Society.

In 1985, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts completed the renovation of a former 1800’s freight yard. What was to become Western Gateway Heritage State Park would give the City large gallery space for a Hoosac Tunnel Museum at the new Visitors Center. With the assurance that the history of the Hoosac Tunnel was in good hands, the Hoosac Tunnel Museum Society gave its Hoosac Tunnel collection to the Visitors Center at Western Gateway Heritage State Park. It was decided at this time to change the name of the Society to the North Adams Historical Society, Inc. (NAHS) On July 1, 1988, the change was complete. The North Adams Historical Society, Inc., was formed with a broader focus – to protect, preserve, and promote the history of North Adams, Massachusetts and its people.

Until the fall of 1997, the North Adams Historical Society, Inc., did not have a permanent home. In September 1997, the NAHS officially opened the Local History Center in Western Gateway Heritage State Park. The restored buildings that once served as part of an 1800’s freight yard were the perfect home to the many historical artifacts collected over the years.

After opening in Western Gateway Heritage State Park building 1, the Society received many generous loans and donations of artifacts. This collection overfilled our next home in building 2. In February 1999 it was decided to change the name from the Local History Center to the North Adams Local History Museum. Our exhibits have increased in size and number of artifacts and our membership continues to grow. In May 2001, we became the North Adams Museum of History and Science and moved to building 5A and expanded to have over 25 permanent exhibits on three floors.

After nearly two decades at its home in the Western Gateway Heritage State Park the North Adams Museum of History and Science plans packed up its vast collection in 2019 and moved into a newly-renovated space in the Holiday Inn on Main Street.

In January of 2022 the hotel was purchased by Down Street Hotel and we had to move our collection into storage at All Saints Episcopal Church.

In addition to it’s permanent collections, the Museum also presents temporary exhibits on the life and times of North Adams in the past.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at NAHS@BCN.NET