Upper Housatonic National Heritage Area.
Art exhibits, portraits of local papermakers, historical artifacts and even a paper plane guru (you remember Howard) will help launch the Housatonic Paper Trail on Thursday, September 16, in Pittsfield. The multi-site celebration of the history and impact of the paper industry in the Upper Housatonic River region is a program of the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area in partnership with the Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development, Berkshire Museum and Crane & Co.
Mills along the Upper Housatonic River at one time produced much of the paper and paper products used in the nation. The region's contribution to the industry spans more than 200 years: from 1801, when Zenas Crane built his first mill in Dalton; through the 1860s, when the Upper Housatonic powered 65 mills; to the present day, in which two local companies - Crane Co. and Onyx Specialty Papers, whose roots extend to 1806, continue the legacy.
"We hope the Housatonic Paper Trail will help local residents and visitors understand the immense cultural, economic and historical impact that the paper mills have had on this region and the nation as a whole," said Dan Bolognani, executive director of Housatonic Heritage. "Our vision is to build up a wealth of information and artifacts that preserves and builds on this heritage "
The Housatonic Paper Trail will be launched as part of Pittsfield's 3rd Thursday. The official kick-off, which is open to the public, will be held at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts from 5 to 7 p.m. The Center will host a group show of contemporary regional artists who work on or with paper; clips from "Paper Town," a new documentary film by Judith Monachina and Erica Spizz about the paper mills of Lee, Mass.; and an animated video by Alice, Anna and John Myers.
Yours truly will be on hand to give a brief overview of the industry's economical and cultural impact on the region.
"We're thrilled to bring attention to the region's extraordinary papermaking history through the work of local contemporary artists, filmmakers, photographers and animators," said Megan Whilden, director of Pittsfield's Office of Cultural Development. "What better way to celebrate our heritage of industrial innovation than through the continuing creativity of the region?"
Other events and exhibits will take place throughout downtown Pittsfield. Photographic portraits by Bill Wright of men and women who work in the paper industry will be on display at the Storefront Artist Project.
The Berkshire Museum will house an installation by Henry Klimowicz, constructed of discarded cardboard, and historical artifacts from the Berkshire Museum and the Crane Museum of Papermaking.
On North Street, which will be closed to traffic, Howard Fink will demonstrate how to fold extraordinary paper airplanes and judge the best planes made by children and adults.
All events are free and open to the public.
Elevated to a national heritage area by the U.S. Congress in 2006, Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area works to build awareness and appreciation of the offerings and history of the 29 towns that straddle the Upper Housatonic River from Kent, Connecticut to Lanesboro, Massachusetts. Housatonic Heritage partners with local organizations and individuals to ensure that the region remains a vibrant place to live, work and visit in years to come.
Programs include annual Heritage Walks; the African American Heritage Trail; the Upper Housatonic Valley Experience, a teachers' immersion program in the region's history, culture, environment and economy; the Performing Arts Heritage Trail, which includes a wealth of arts venues and heritage sites; and the Iron Heritage Trail, which includes sites relating to iron manufacturing, one of the area’s most important industries from the 18th century through the early 1920s.
Housatonic Heritage is one of 49 national heritage areas designated by Congress in partnership with the National Park Service. Each has distinctive natural, cultural, historic, and scenic resources that tell a unique story about our country. More information is available at HousatonicHeritage.org.