Exploring Local Industrial History Through the Lens of Silk
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Common Thread: Exploring Local Industrial History Through the Lens of Silk
Once upon a time, the Pioneer Valley’s mills bustled with activity, producing all sorts of goods and providing a boost to the local economy. These mills are now filled with offices, art studios, and spacious high-ceiling apartments.
Despite the creative reuse of such industrial spaces, folks can easily explore the area’s ties to industries of the past. In particular, folks can study the Pioneer Valley’s connection to the textile industry through self-guided explorations, museum visits, tree identification, and hands-on learning opportunities taking place during the next few months.
Using resources created through the Northampton Silk Project, families can take a self-guided tour of the Northampton Silk Route. Composed of ten stops, the Northampton Silk Route is an expedition of portions of Leeds, Florence, and downtown Northampton that includes stops at historic homes, former mills, and other important places. The Northampton Silk Project’s basic information will help families learn a basic history of the silk industry in the Pioneer Valley. Before setting out, families can get an introduction to the local silk industry by using Historic Northampton’s virtual tour of Florence manufacturing.
At Historic Deerfield, check out “Celebrating the Fiber Arts: The Helen Geier Flynt Textile Gallery,” an exhibit featuring a wide array of everything from costumes to needlework dating back as far as the 1600s.
For further learning about the history of the textile industry, families can visit a special exhibit at Historic Deerfield. Titled Celebrating the Fiber Arts: The Helen Geier Flynt Textile Gallery, the exhibition features a wide array of everything from costumes to needlework dating back to the 1600s. Each spotlights an interesting element of textile-related history. The collection displayed is considered one of the best in the country and includes beautiful and fascinating pieces.
Have you ever wondered why “Mulberry” would be chosen as the name of a business or street in the Connecticut River valley? With its reference to Mulberry Street in Springfield, MA, could the Dr. Seuss classic, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, be indirectly related to our silk industry heritage? Being the sole food source for silkworms, the influence of the mulberry tree craze of the 1830s still dots our landscape to this day. Look for mulberry trees in and around Northampton, MA. Stop to appreciate its origin and how it might relate to our local textile history.
Learning about our local history through the lens of silk can help shed some light on understanding our region’s industrial past, how local architecture (mills) relates to this past, and help us connect more with the history of our local landscape.
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