Historic Walking Tour of Great Barrington Launched As Cellphone App

(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Great Barrington, the “best small town in America,” according to Smithsonian Magazine, now has an app to prove it.

The Great Barrington Historical Commission has produced a smartphone historic walking tour of the town’s Victorian Main Street. The tour covers sixteen civic, commercial, religious and residential historic sites in Great Barrington’s thriving central business district. Visitors learn about each site through short text and audio descriptions, period and contemporary photographs and pertinent web links.

Visitors can download the app for free at any time and may choose to preview the sites before taking the actual tour. Upon opening the app, tourists are guided from site to site by using a map linked to the GPS feature on their smartphones.

Links to download the app for iPhone, Android and Windows smartphones can be found at the town’s website.

“While conventional walking tours, with self-guided brochures or live tour guides, remain important means to convey local history,” explained Malcolm Fick, project team leader and Historical Commission member, “the app format presents an alternative that doesn’t confine the tourist to a guide’s schedule and provides the opportunity to view supplementary materials at the user’s leisure.”

The tour includes the following sites:  Mason Library, St. Peter’s Church, William Stanley Overlook, St. James Church, Town Hall and Winged Victory Civil War monument, Searles Castle, Dwight Henderson House, Bridge Street, Searles and Bryant Schools, Methodist Church, Berkshire Courier building, Main Street, City Store and Railroad Street, Old Courthouse and Mahaiwe Block, W.E. B. Dubois birthplace and the Congregational Church.

The research, writing, editing, and audio narrative was completed by members of the Historical Commission and other volunteers from the community. The accompanying images were drawn from the archives of the Commission, the Great Barrington Historical Society, local historians and community members

“This innovative program helps fulfill a primary goal of the Great Barrington Historical Commission,” stated chairman Paul W. Ivory.  “We seek to enhance public awareness of the rich catalogue of historic properties in the town and heighten appreciation of their importance to our community identity and economy.  This tour is the first of many that celebrate the architecture and history of Great Barrington.”

The tour was funded in part by a grant from the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area.


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