×

Historical society presents program on Northfield conferences

  • Built in 1894, the auditorium on the Northfield campus seated 2,500 and was primarily constructed to serve the throngs of people attending Dwight L. Moody's summer conferences. In this photo, Moody is on stage, seated fourth from the right. Courtesy of NMH

  • Built in 1894, the auditorium on the Northfield campus seated 2,500 and was primarily constructed to serve the throngs of people attending Dwight L. Moody's summer conferences. Courtesy of NMH

  • Summer conference workers worked throughout the summer to ensure conference participants were comfortable and well fed. Photo circa 1890s. Courtesy of NMH



Recorder Staff
Friday, July 14, 2017

NORTHFIELD — When famed evangelist Dwight L. Moody founded the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies, the campus became a magnet for college students, Sunday school teachers and dozens of other groups attracted to Moody’s religious conferences.

“(The conferences) had a large impact on the town,” said Joel Fowler, a member of the Northfield Historical Society’s program committee. “There were a lot of people who came to town … It helped the local economy, gave a lot of people jobs whether it was for housing visitors, transporting them or ... working on the conferences themselves.”

Given the conferences’ significance in Northfield’s history, the Northfield Historical Society is offering “Heaven on Earth,” a free program about the conferences led by Northfield Mount Hermon School archivist Peter Weis on Saturday, July 22, starting at 10 a.m. The program will take place on the old campus in Hibbard Hall, now owned by The Moody Center, located at 36 Winchester Road.

Weis will discuss the history of the conferences, starting with the first conference held in 1880 following the campus’ first school year, according to a Northfield Historical Society flier.

To accommodate overflow crowds, an ever-expanding hotel opened in the mid-1880s, the flier reads, and the auditorium was constructed in 1894. Initially, tent villages became a tradition to provide summer housing, and the school later leased the land which became Rustic Ridge.

Appropriately keeping with tradition, the program committee decided to hold “Heaven on Earth” in the summer, so residents who continue to return regularly can attend, and hold it on the Northfield campus.

Coffee, tea and refreshments will be served.

More Northfield Historical Society activities

Also on Saturday, the Northfield Historical Society will hold its annual meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the East Room at the Northfield Historical Museum, located at 13 Pine St.

The museum will be open from 2 to 5 p.m., the flier reads. Attendees can see the Stratton/Hammond Shay exhibit; an early 20th century classroom; various photos and documents from the Northfield conferences; photos of older Northfield homes, the Northfield Hotel and the Schell Chateau; items from the town’s agricultural past and early businesses; and paintings by Northfield artists.

Reach Shelby Ashline at: sashline@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 257