The Conway Historical Society was incorporated in April 1973 to collect and preserve historical records and artifacts that document persons, places, organizations and events in and associated with Conway, Massachusetts. The Society maintains a museum at 50 Main Street, open on Sundays (1-4 p.m.) in July and August (or by appointment) and during the Festival of the Hills, and the one-room Boyden Schoolhouse, adjacent to the Conway Grammar School and open during the Festival.
Annual membership dues are $10 for individuals and $18 for families. The Society is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization.
The Conway Historical Society maintains a collection of important organizational records, family papers and photographs, and hundreds of artifacts. Highlights of the collection include:
Conway was incorporated in 1767, a town in the hills just west of Deerfield. The first town center was in the area known as Pumpkin Hollow along the present Whately Road at the intersections with Old Cricket Hill Road and Maple Street.
The South River, which twists and tumbles through Conway on its way from Ashfield to its juncture with the Deerfield River, gave rise to Conway's industrial prominence through most of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Of the many power dams and mills that lined the river, only the Conant and Donelson tap and die company building, now Orchard Equipment & Supply Co., OESCO, Inc., remains. The dam is gone but parts of the canal can still be seen.
During the industrial period, the town center moved to its present location along Route 116.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the Conway power dam, still standing, was built. It powered the town and the Conway Electric Street Railway--the first street railway in the state chartered to haul freight.
Today Conway is home to educators, artists, writers, professionals, business people, trades and crafts people, entrepreneurs, and farmers. The town still relies on the traditional New England form of government: a selectboard and town meetings.
Conway's hilly landscape is dominated by original farms, state forest woods and streams, maple sugar houses, bed and breakfast establishments, and remnants of the industrial era.
Field Memorial Library (designed by Boston architects Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge), Burkeville Covered Bridge, one-room schoolhouses (including the renovated Boyden Schoolhouse), Bardwells Ferry Bridge (only example of a lenticular truss in Western Massachusetts), power dam on South River, abutments from the former New Haven Railroad bridge across South River (highest railroad bridge in the state), original farms and community supported agriculture (Natural Roots) , maple sugar houses, the Conway pool, cemeteries (Pine Grove, Howland, Poland Gate, and Cricket Hill), the wildlife refuge on Poland Road, and the state forest.
Marshall Field (merchant), Archibald MacLeish (poet laureate and Librarian of Congress), William Lester Stevens (renowned painter), the Rev. Edward Hitchcock (a president of Amherst College), and Jack Chesbro (baseball Hall of Famer--holds modern record for most wins in a season).
United Congregational Church (published a town newsletter, The Visitor; now Conway Currents), St. Mark's Catholic Church, the Conway Grammar School, and the Shang Shung School of Tibetan Medicine.
Ambulance Corps, Conway Historical Commission, Festival of the Hills Committee, Fire Department and Auxiliary, Garden Club, Sportsmen's Club, and various town committees.
Jack Chesbro displays his catch of the day!