Jump to content

Tyringham, Massachusetts

Coordinates: 42°14′45″N 73°12′15″W / 42.24583°N 73.20417°W / 42.24583; -73.20417
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tyringham, Massachusetts
Santarella, the home of Henry Hudson Kitson
Santarella, the home of Henry Hudson Kitson
Official seal of Tyringham, Massachusetts
Location in Berkshire County and the state of Massachusetts.
Location in Berkshire County and the state of Massachusetts.
Coordinates: 42°14′45″N 73°12′15″W / 42.24583°N 73.20417°W / 42.24583; -73.20417
CountryUnited States
 • TypeOpen town meeting
 • Town administratorMolly Curtin-Schaefer
 • Total18.9 sq mi (48.9 km2)
 • Land18.6 sq mi (48.3 km2)
 • Water0.2 sq mi (0.6 km2)
901 ft (275 m)
 • Total427
 • Density23/sq mi (8.7/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code413
FIPS code25-71095
GNIS feature ID0619429

Tyringham is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 427 at the 2020 census.[1]



Founded as Housatonic Township Number 1, the land which became Tyringham and Monterey was first settled in 1735. Tyringham was established in 1739.[2] The two main villages were set up along two waterways, Hop Brook to the north and the Konkapot River to the south.

In 1750, Adonijah Bidwell, a Yale Divinity School graduate from the Hartford region, became the first minister of Township No. 1. When a meetinghouse was founded in the south, it led to a buildup in the north, and by 1762 the town was incorporated.[3] The origins of the town name are somewhat disputed, with some sources claiming it was named for Tyringham, a village in Buckinghamshire, England,[4] and others asserting it was named by Sir Francis Bernard, the former governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, after a woman, Jane Beresford (adopted by John Tyringham), from whom he had inherited an estate.[3][4] If the latter, it would be the only town in Massachusetts named after a woman.[5]

The town was home to the Tyringham Shaker Settlement Historic District, with the Shaker holy name of "Jerusalem", which lay just south of the town center.[6] The town of Monterey was set off and incorporated as its own town in 1847.

Tyringham celebrated its bicentennial in August 1939 with a two day celebration and a 31 unit parade.[7]

The Stedman Rake Factory located in town made rakes for several American Presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.[8]

The town was the site of several small country estates for notable wealthy families. Today, Tyringham is a small, rural community.



The town of Tyringham began with an agricultural economy which soon shifted to include cottage industries and manufacturing. In 1786, the town had 182 dwelling houses, forty shops, two tanneries, four potash works, two iron works, and four grist and saw mills. The townspeople made 1185 barrels of cider that year. More than ten thousand acres of the uplands were woodlands or unimproved land, but about 2500 acres had been improved for tillage. About two thousand acres were mowed for hay, and more than three thousand acres were used as pasturage for the townspeople's five hundred horses, eight hundred swine, 178 oxen, five hundred cattle, and 541 milk cows.[9]

By 1837, Tyringham farmers had incorporated sheep into their economy and owned 1678 Merino sheep as well as 598 sheep of other breeds, and produced more than 6500 pounds of wool. One tannery was still in operation. Their manufactories made boots, shoes, iron castings, forks, wooden ware, palm-leaf hats, rakes, chairs, and corn brooms. The biggest business, a paper mill, employed seven men and nineteen women, and made fifty tons of paper valued at $21,000.[10]

Over the next three decades, Tyringham farmers diversified further, though they maintained about 1800 acres for making hay. In 1865, 63 farms employed 200, and their tillage produced Indian corn, rye, barley, buckwheat, oats, and corn. Vegetable crops included potatoes, turnips, onions, carrots, and cabbage. Most of their crops were suited to the chilly climate and short growing season of a hilltown. The Shakers raised garden seeds, devoting only three acres to those crops but selling the seeds for $2,000. Someone devoted five acres to tobacco and raised nine thousand pounds valued at $1,800. Tyringham farmers had also brought 1800 apple trees and fifty pear trees into production. Their livestock had declined in numbers, but their 317 milk cows gave enough milk to make 8,000 pounds of butter and 40,000 pounds of cheese which sold for $8,000. Tyringham farmers also sold more than a hundred thousand pounds of dressed beef, pork, mutton, veal, and pork. They also made five thousand pounds of maple sugar and four hundred gallons of maple molasses valued at $1,500. This was a cash crop for the Shakers as well as many upland farmers with slopes too steep to plow and covered with the maple trees which are a significant part of Massachusetts forests.

Manufacturing continued to grow. The Shakers' rake factory employed nine men and made thirty thousand rakes in 1865. Two paper mills employing 22 men and 41 women made more than $110,000 worth of paper. In addition, Tyringham townspeople worked in two blacksmith shops, a boot and shoe factory, and five sawmills.[11]

After the Tyringham Shakers left in 1875, their businesses closed and their farms were sold. One Shaker family's buildings on Jerusalem Road became a summer resort known as Fernside.[12][4]

Although far fewer in number than in the past, Tyringham remains an agricultural community that includes working farms. Woven Roots Farm is a "hand scale farm" that uses traditional farming practices in community-supported agriculture program.[13] It also offers educational programming and community partnerships.[13] Hav's Farm is a working dairy farm.


The hills to the south of Tyringham, as seen from Main Road

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 18.9 square miles (48.9 km2), of which 18.6 square miles (48.3 km2) is land and 0.23 square miles (0.6 km2), or 1.20%, is water.[14] The town is four-sided, bordered by Lee to the north, Becket and Otis to the east, Monterey to the south, and Great Barrington to the west. Tyringham is located 16 miles (26 km) south of Pittsfield, 39 miles (63 km) west-northwest of Springfield, and 125 miles (201 km) west of Boston.

Tyringham is located in the Hop Brook Valley in the Berkshire Hills. To the northeast of the valley, Baldy Mountain rises to a large plateau which stretches into the neighboring towns, and includes Goose Pond. To the southwest of the valley, two mountain peaks—Mount Wilcot and Hunger Mountain—rise in a plateau in neighboring Monterey.

Tyringham is one of just fifteen towns in Massachusetts (and only two, along with Mount Washington, in Berkshire County) which is not served by any type of state route. Interstate 90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike) and U.S. Route 20 pass just north of the town's northeastern corner, and Massachusetts Route 23 passes through neighboring Monterey to the south. The main road through town (named "Main Road") passes between this route to the south and Route 102 in Lee, just south of the point where it meets Route 20 at I-90 Exit 2. There are no rail or bus services in the town, with the nearest regional service for both being in Great Barrington (13 miles (21 km)). The nearest scheduled air service is at Bradley International Airport, near Hartford, Connecticut (40 miles (64 km))

Appalachian Trail


The Appalachian Trail passes through the town, a reflection of its remoteness. It winds down Sky Hill (a part of Mount Wilcot), then sweeps through the valley along Main Road, past the town center, leaving via Baldy Mountain and towards Becket Mountain. A pay telephone station for the hikers was installed near the Post Office. Informally, some residents on Main Road provide bed and breakfast, and hot showers, to hikers.



In a typical year, Tyringham, Massachusetts temperatures fall below 50 °F (10 °C) for 205 days per year. Annual precipitation is typically 46.3 inches per year (high in the US) and snow covers the ground 69 days per year or 18.9% of the year (high in the US). It may be helpful to understand the yearly precipitation by imagining 9 straight days of moderate rain per year. The humidity is below 60% for approximately 18.4 days or 5.0% of the year.[15]


Historical population
* = population estimate.
Source: United States census records and Population Estimates Program data.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26]

As of the census[27] of 2000, there were 350 people, 133 households, and 98 families residing in the town. By population, the town ranks 30th out of 32 cities and towns in Berkshire County, and 345th out of the 351 in Massachusetts. The population density was 18.7 people per square mile (7.2/km2), which ranks 28th in the county and 342nd in the Commonwealth. There were 265 housing units at an average density of 14.2 per square mile (5.5/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.43% White, 0.29% African American, 0.29% Native American, 2.57% Asian, and 1.43% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.29% of the population.

There were 133 households, out of which 24.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.2% were married couples living together, 6.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.6% were non-families. 20.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 18.6% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 18.9% from 25 to 44, 40.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.6 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $60,250, and the median income for a family was $67,679. Males had a median income of $42,708 versus $31,250 for females. The per capita income for the town was $35,503. None of the families and 3.5% of the population were living below the poverty line, including no under eighteens and none of those over 64.


Tyringham Post Office and Town Hall

Tyringham uses the open town meeting form of government, and is led by a board of selectmen and an administrative assistant. The town has a police department, fire department and post office, as well as a library, which is adjacent to the town hall and is part of the regional library network. The nearest courthouses and hospital, Fairview Hospital, are located in Great Barrington.

On the state level, Tyringham is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by the Fourth Berkshire district, which covers southern Berkshire County, as well as the westernmost towns in Hampden County. In the Massachusetts Senate, the town is represented by the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin district, which includes all of Berkshire County and western Hampshire and Franklin counties.[28] The town is patrolled by the First (Lee) Station of Barracks "B" of the Massachusetts State Police.[29]

On the national level, Tyringham is represented in the United States House of Representatives as part of Massachusetts's 1st congressional district, and has been represented by Richard Neal of Springfield since January 2013. Massachusetts is currently represented in the United States Senate by senior Senator Elizabeth Warren and junior Senator Ed Markey



In 2000 there are no stores or other businesses in Tyringham. Near the Post Office is a small plaza of shuttered storefronts and stables. There is a library staffed by volunteers, and a congregational church. The only jobs are part-time: at the Post Office and for the town government (fire, police, maintenance of roads and records). The installation of a soda vending machine inside the fire station was the subject of much local comment. Many residents are commuters from jobs in Lee, Great Barrington, or Pittsfield. Some residents free-lance plowing snow in winter.



Tyringham students are sent to Lee Public Schools by arrangement with that adjacent town.[30] Lee Elementary School serves students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grades, and the Lee Middle and High School serves students from seventh through twelfth grades. Additionally, neighboring Lee is home to Saint Mary's School, a parochial school which serves students through eighth grade. Other private schools can be found in Great Barrington and other surrounding towns.

The nearest community college is the South County Center of Berkshire Community College in Great Barrington 13 miles (21 km) The nearest state college is Westfield State University (30 miles (48 km)). The nearest private college is Bard College at Simon's Rock, in Great Barrington, the only college in the country that focuses on excellent young students who do not need to finish high school.

Points of interest


Notable people

  • Brooke Astor owned a home in Tyringham with her husband Buddie Marshall, selling it following his death and before she became Mrs. Astor.[31]
  • Grover Cleveland, U.S. President, spent time in Tyringham, enjoying fishing in the Hop Brook. In 1901, he was arrested and fined $2 for catching too many fish.[32]
  • Maria Cole, widow of Nat "King" Cole, moved to Tyringham five years after his death.[33]
  • Kitty Dukakis owned a home used as a vacation retreat for her husband, former governor Michael Dukakis.[5]
  • George Gilder, investor, writer, economist, techno-utopian advocate; spent most of his childhood with his mother, Anne Spring (Alsop), and his stepfather, Gilder Palmer, on a dairy farm in Tyringham, where he still lives.[5]
  • Rutherford B. Hayes, U. S. President; spent part of a summer in Tyringham, staying at a large house just to the north of the village that took in boarders, claiming their team met every train in Lee.
  • Sidney Howard, playwright and screenwriter; lived and died in Tyringham. Howard was the major screenwriter for David O. Selznick's 1939 epic Gone with the Wind
  • Yo-Yo Ma, Classical musician; has a residence in Tyringham and spends much of his time in the town.[5]
  • William Roerick, actor; lived at his Lost Farm homestead in Tyringham; among the various visitors was E. M. Forster, who dedicated his last book, Two Cheers for Democracy to "William Roerick and 'The Lost Farm' in Tyringham, Massachusetts."[34]
  • Mark Twain, writer; was a frequent visitor to Tyringham as the guest of Richard Watson Gilder and Helena de Kay Gilder. He spent a summer in Tyringham following the death of his daughter.[32]
  • Sir Brian Urquhart, British diplomat and United Nations official; lived and died in the town.[35]
  • According to Ruth Goldmuntz, a prominent Zionist who owned a home in Tyringham, Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel, spent time in Tyringham at Goldmuntz's home.[36]


  1. ^ "Census - Geography Profile: Tyringham town, Berkshire County, Massachusetts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 14, 2021.
  2. ^ "Tyringham, MA |". www.tyringham-ma.gov. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Town History | Tyringham, MA". www.tyringham-ma.gov. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Myers, Eloise (1951). Tyringham: A Hinterland Settlement.
  5. ^ a b c d Eagle, Clarence Fanto, Special to the (July 17, 2007). "Longtime families, celebrities, nature prominent here". The Berkshire Eagle. Retrieved June 21, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Tyringham Shaker Village, Shaker Historic Trail
  7. ^ "TYRINGHAM MARKS ITS TWO CENTURIES; Parade in the Berkshire Town Illustrates Events of History". The New York Times. August 20, 1939. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  8. ^ "MAKES RAKE FOR HOOVER.; M.W. Stedman of Tyringham Picks Special Wood for Present". The New York Times. February 24, 1929. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  9. ^ "Tyringham," 1786 Massachusetts Town Valuations (Mass. Archives, vol. 163), p. 340.
  10. ^ John P. Bigelow, "Tyringham," Statistical Tables: exhibiting the Condition and Products of Certain Branches of Industry in Massachusetts for the year ending April 1, 1837 (Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1838), 116-17.
  11. ^ Oliver Warner, Statistical Information: relating to certain Branches of Industry in Massachusetts for the year ending May 1, 1865 (Boston: Wright and Potter, 1866), p. 69-70.
  12. ^ Tyringham Shaker Settlement Historic District, Massachusetts Historical Commission file, 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Woven Roots Farm". Woven Roots Farm. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  14. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Tyringham town, Berkshire County, Massachusetts". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  15. ^ "Climate in Tyringham, Massachusetts". Retrieved February 28, 2023.
  16. ^ "Total Population (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1". American FactFinder, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts. United States Census Bureau. 2010.
  17. ^ "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  18. ^ "1990 Census of Population, General Population Characteristics: Massachusetts" (PDF). US Census Bureau. December 1990. Table 76: General Characteristics of Persons, Households, and Families: 1990. 1990 CP-1-23. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  19. ^ "1980 Census of the Population, Number of Inhabitants: Massachusetts" (PDF). US Census Bureau. December 1981. Table 4. Populations of County Subdivisions: 1960 to 1980. PC80-1-A23. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  20. ^ "1950 Census of Population" (PDF). Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21-10 and 21-11, Massachusetts Table 6. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930 to 1950. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  21. ^ "1920 Census of Population" (PDF). Bureau of the Census. Number of Inhabitants, by Counties and Minor Civil Divisions. Pages 21-5 through 21-7. Massachusetts Table 2. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1920, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  22. ^ "1890 Census of the Population" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. Pages 179 through 182. Massachusetts Table 5. Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions: 1880 and 1890. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  23. ^ "1870 Census of the Population" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1872. Pages 217 through 220. Table IX. Population of Minor Civil Divisions, &c. Massachusetts. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  24. ^ "1860 Census" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1864. Pages 220 through 226. State of Massachusetts Table No. 3. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  25. ^ "1850 Census" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  26. ^ "City and Town Population Totals: 2020−2022". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  27. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  28. ^ Senators and Representatives by City and Town
  29. ^ Station B-1, SP Lee
  30. ^ "Schools | Tyringham, MA". www.tyringham-ma.gov. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  31. ^ "In Mrs. Astor's Shadow". Vanity Fair. December 1, 2006. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  32. ^ a b City (March 12, 2008). "The town ..." The Berkshire Eagle. Retrieved June 20, 2022.
  33. ^ Rozhon, Tracie (July 24, 1994). "Habitats/Echoes of Nat (King) Cole; A Berkshire Estate With a Special Beat". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  34. ^ Milton R. Bass (July 17, 1952). "The Lively Arts". The Berkshire Eagle. p. 14. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  35. ^ "Brian Urquhart, a foundational leader at the United Nations, dies at 101". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved June 20, 2022.
  36. ^ "Ruth Goldmuntz Obituary (2005) - New York, NY - New York Times". Legacy.com. Retrieved July 23, 2023.