Greenfield: A Town with an Innovative Past, Present and Future

Take an educational trip right into Greenfield’s innovative past, present and future

Taken from the upper story front porch of the Grand Trunk Hotel in Turners Falls, this image shows the trolley near Second Street and Avenue A (c.1890), an example of trolly use in the Pioneer Valley. – Courtesy Image.

The Pioneer Valley Institute is offering a day tour of the highlights of Greenfield on Saturday, June 7: “Spring into Greenfield: A Trolley Ride Through our Town’s History and Architecture.” The town’s trolley bus will be the mode of transportation for the day, and is a reminder of the active trolley system available 100 years ago throughout the Connecticut River Valley.

Greenfield, its buildings, its industries, and farmland, offers a complex story. This hub town for Franklin County is the site of fine examples of architectural design, of industrial innovation, and of current efforts to retrofit Greenfield’s fine older buildings to conserve energy for the coming decades. Greenfield was a crossroads for train freight service and will soon see restored passenger service. Waterpower and fine farmland attracted early settlers and investors, and innovators and businesses continue to recognize opportunities in the town.

The center of Greenfield hosts of architectural splendor, and Lindley Wilson, art and architecture instructor, will lead a walking tour providing an opportunity to experience a refreshing view of the art and history of Greenfield, a view which often escapes the notice of busy pedestrians and shoppers.

Following the walking tour, the next trolley bus stop will be a visit to the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage. Early innovative and successful use of waterpower made Greenfield an industrial center that supported a large workforce and a busy commercial district, and some of the state’s wealthiest residents. The Museum’s exhibits capture the innovative forces in Greenfield and other county towns during the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum’s Meade Street site is a prime example of the town’s ties to waterpower.

After lunch at one of Greenfield’s diverse restaurants, the tour will explore the future with Nancy Hazard, former director of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association and member of Greening Greenfield, as guide. The tour will explore re-purposing and improving Greenfield’s older buildings on the way to a visit with a resident of the Wisdom Way Solar Village, a first-in-the-nation near-zero-net-energy affordable housing project, where residents spend less than $400 each year on heat and electricity.

The tour will conclude by exploring the exciting progress at Just Roots, Greenfield’s Community Farm, built on Greenfield’s Poor Farm, which operated over 100 years from 1849 into the 1950’s. This innovative farm is benefiting area residents by offering community gardens, reskilling workshops, programs for youth, internships, food donations to the food bank and much more!

On the way back to the starting point, the trolley will pass by the acclaimed food processing center, run by the Franklin Community Development Corporation (CDC), which plays a key role in Greenfield’s agricultural renaissance. We will also pass by and talk about Mark Zaccheo’s most recent housing rehab project. The Conway Street elementary school now offers 0-net-energy living. Learn how Zaccheo produces all the heat and electricity on site.

To sign up for the Tour, visit the Pioneer Valley Institute website by June 2 at or 413-774-5038 to request a paper registration form.

– Submitted by Cynthia Herbert, Pioneer Valley Institute

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