Williamstown caps off 250th anniversary with festivities

The College had the opportunity this weekend to collaborate with Williamstown residents to celebrate the town’s 250th anniversary.

This year’s celebrations have been in the works for some time and the organizing committee has been meeting for the past year and a half. The celebrations are part of an ongoing effort to bring light to the history of Williamstown and the College’s role in shaping its history.

The events started with the Ephraim Williams birthday celebrations last winter. However, this weekend’s celebrations had a historical twist. Model encampments of the French & Indian War and the Revolutionary War, as well as an Algonquin wigwam have been on display all weekend on the American Legion Lawn at the end of Spring Street. Part of the exhibition includes a display on the French & Indian War set up by Bob Volz, custodian of Chapin Library.

Last Saturday, a birthday celebration was held at the end of Spring St. The street buzzed with townspeople and College staff and students. There was live music in the background and food and games were available to all. The evening was topped off with the Contradance in the First Congregational Church featuring the Flying Garbanzos. “It was a great way to escape the Purple Bubble without having to leave campus,” Patricia Quinland ’07 said.

Hank Art, professor of biology and director of the Center for Environmental Studies, led a series of panel discussions on the history of the Town. The discussions brought back many College alumni who had done their undergraduate research on the history of Williamstown. The discussions will continue into the first week of October and will build up to a Winter Study course taught by Art this year called “Picturing Our Past.” The idea is to encourage townspeople to bring in pictures of their ancestors and of the scenery around Williamstown, which will then be scanned, restored and put on display at various exhibitions around the College. “A lot of the cultural history and imagery of the town is in people’s homes and in their private collections,” Art said. “By having the College and town come together, we can preserve the cultural history in a sharing of images.”

Once the project is completed, the collection will be available on DVD and CD format, as well as online. “The response so far has been quite good,” Art said. “We have great expectations of [the project] blossoming.”

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