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Town of Adams, Massachusetts

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Walking Tour of Historic Park Street
Before you begin:
The name Park Street comes from a small park, once located in the southwest corner of the street near the railroad tracks. In the early history of Adams, Park Street was the stagecoach route through town. By the 1840's, the street was occupied by the houses of crafts- and tradesmen. The business center of town at that time was to the south on Center Street.
The development of today's downtown began with the completion of the old Town Hall (1) in 1883, six years after the division of North Adams and Adams. In the following 15 years, Park Street grew up to be what we see today.
The major factor that changed the character of Park Street was the large expansion of the cotton mills in the 1890's. The increased business and growing population created a demand for more store and office space. Houses that were on the street for 40 years were moved. Two houses (11) and (22) were actually raised up and store space added beneath them. Along with the Fire House (now the Adams Ambulance Service) (24), four 3-story brick buildings were built: the Mausert Block (20), the Daniels Block (23), the Jones Block (25), and the Dawson Block (10). In general, the wooden houses were replaced by multistoried brick buildings that contained stores on the ground floor with offices and meeting halls on the upper floors.
In 1969, Town Meeting members defeated an urban renewal proposal to demolish most of the buildings on the street. Two years earlier a similar plan razed the Center Street area eliminating the buildings of the old commercial center of Adams. In the 1980's the street was revitalized with a historic preservation strategy fueled by federal, state and local government moneys and the cooperation of property owners.
Park Street welcomes residents and visitors with green spaces, pleasant shops, interesting architecture, and the grace of a small-town main street.
BEGINNING POINT - PARK STREET (Old Town Hall)
1. Old Town Hall: On the corner of School and Park Streets, a site which was earlier occupied by a school, the Town Hall was built to serve local government, house the district court, Registry of Deeds, and provide an auditorium. A fire in 1949 destroyed the peaked roof and tower. When the building was remodeled,, the facade underwent dramatic changes. The Town Hall was moved in 1997 to the American Legion Building (15)
2. The Red Carpet: This building was originally a private residence but has been a restaurant since the 1920's. A photo display inside captures a view of Adams and its residents.
3. Simmons Furniture: The Simmons family operated businesses in this building, the fancy yellow one across the street (9) and the one on the corner of school street (27). An examination of the windows and architectural style of the rear of this building reveals that it was once a church.

4. The Armory: Built in 1914 and modeled after a Norman medieval castle, the Armory of Company M is an example of the monumental architecture and large green spaces which grace the northern entrance to Park Street.  
5. McKinley Statue: President McKinley visited Adams on three occasions; once as governor of Ohio and twice as president of the U.S. His economic policy helped Adams by protecting American industries. Shortly after his assassination, the Plunketts started a fund which resulted in the erection of a monument to him in 1903.     
6. Berkshire Mill #1: The first of four mills built by W.B. and C.T. Plunkett, this cotton mill brought great economic development to the town. Today it has been restored as an apartment building.
7. Notre Dame and St. Thomas Churches: These two churches add to the monumental nature of all the other buildings that surround McKinley Square. Built in 1887 and 1897 respectively, they are surrounded by large green lawns to showcase their architectural beauty.
8. The Adams Free Library: This building was designed to satisfy two functions: house the town library and serve as a patriotic memorial to the veterans of the Civil War; hence the names Washington, Lincoln and Grant are listed in the building's cornice. President McKinley laid the cornerstone of this building on his second visit to Adams in 1897. The distinctive buff-colored brick is trimmed by marble quarried at the former Adams Marble Co. The second floor of this building was used as a meeting hall for the veteran groups of the Civil War era. Today a portion of this floor houses the Adams Historical Society Collection.
9. The Simmons Home: Built in the mid-1880's, this building originally housed two stores on the first floor and the Simmons' residence on the upper stories. Its exterior is admired for the intricate shingling, colored glass, and varied roof lines.
10. The Dawson Block: This is one of the brick three-story buildings that was built in the 1890's when there was a large demand for store and office space in Adams. The distinctive feature of this building, besides the ornate cornice at the roof line, is the store fronts that have remained unchanged since the building was first constructed. This gives us a view of store windows before plate glass was widely used.
11. Lapham Home/ Bieniek Electronics
12. First Congregational Church: This is the only wooden church in Adams still in use. Built in 1868, just after the Civil War, it holds a prominent spot on Park Street. The parish house and parsonage to the south of the church were built in 1895. Notice the brick and shingle construction. The Plunkett family was very active in this church and generously supported it for many decades.     
13. Theodore Plunkett Home
14. Veteran's Memorial: On the lawn of the past American Legion/ new Town Hall Building, this monument lists the names of Adams residents who died serving their country.
15. American Legion Home - New Town Hall
This building was originally built as the home of C.T. Plunkett, the second son in a family that was responsible for the greatest amount of economic development the town of Adams ever experienced. When built in 1907, it displaced the boyhood home of Charles Pierce Burton, author of a series of children adventure stories set in Adams. The main characters in the books referred to them as    
as "The Boys of Bob's Hill". Bob's Hill, named for its owner Robert Briggs, rises behind this house. To the south of the property stood another Plunkett mansion, Montrath, built by Gen. William C. Plunkett and later occupied by his son, William B., who entertained President McKinley there. The house to the north of the Town Hall, was owned by former State Senator Theodore Plunkett, son of William B., making this the third generation to Plunketts to live at this end of Park Street.
16. Susan B. Anthony Memorial Plaque: This monument commemorates Adams' famous daughter, Susan B. Anthony. She was an activist who dedicated her adult life to securing equal rights for African-Americans and women.
17. Flood Control Project: The Hoosic River used to be a threat to life and property until walls of concrete were constructed in the 1950's.
18. South Adams Savings Bank: This building is the last remnant of the Center Street that was once the commercial center of Adams. South Adams Savings is the oldest continuously operating bank in town.
19. Shea's: This building was built just after the Civil War. It has served as a dry goods until the 1990s. It now houses a local dentist's office and other businesses.
20. Mausert Block
21. The Union Hotel: This building is the oldest on Park Street. It was the second hotel to be built in Adams in the 1820's. It has gone through many changes, including being lowered 18 inches when the building was fitted up for store fronts in the mid 1880's.
22. Holmes Home/ Hammond's Bakery
23. The Denials Block
24. Fire House/ Ambulance Service
25. The Jones Block

26. Miss Adams Diner: A diner has existed on this site since the 1930's. This current version, prefabricated in a diner factory, was delivered to this site on December 7, 1949.        
END OF TOUR
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