Trolley tours Greenfield’s industrial past on June 7

Sign up on website by June 2

GREENFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Institute is offering a trolley tour of historical highlights of Greenfield from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 7.

Greenfield, its buildings, its industries, and farmland, offer a complex story. This shire town for Franklin County is the site of fine examples of architectural design, industrial innovation and current efforts to retrofit Greenfield’s fine older buildings to conserve energy for the coming decades, according to organizers.

Greenfield was a crossroads for train freight service and will soon see restored passenger rail service. Waterpower and farmland attracted early settlers and investors, and innovators.

The center of Greenfield hosts examples of architecture, and Lindley Wilson, art and architecture instructor, will lead a walking tour and provide an opportunity to experience a view of the art and history of Greenfield, a view which often escapes the notice of busy pedestrians and shoppers.

Following the walking tour, the next trolley stop will be a visit to the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage. Early innovative and successful use of waterpower made Greenfield an industrial center that supported a large workforce and a busy commercial district, and some of the state’s wealthiest residents. The museum’s exhibits capture the innovative forces in Greenfield and other county towns during the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum’s Meade Street site is a prime example of the town’s ties to waterpower.

After lunch at one of Greenfield’s restaurants, the tour will explore the future with Nancy Hazard, former director of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association and member of Greening Greenfield, as guide. The tour will explore repurposing and improving Greenfield’s older buildings on the way to a visit with a resident of the Wisdom Way Solar Village, a first-in-the-nation near-zero-net-energy affordable housing project, where residents spend less than $400 each year on heat and electricity.

The tour will conclude by exploring the progress at Just Roots, Greenfield’s Community Farm, built on the site of the town’s one-time poor farm, which operated over 100 years from 1849 into the 1950s. Just Roots offers community gardens, workshops, programs for youth, internships and food donations to food banks.

The tour will pass by and talk about Mark Zaccheo’s most recent housing rehabilitation. The Conway Street elementary school now offers zero-net-energy living, with all the heat and electricity generated on site.

To sign up for the $20-per-person tour, visit the Pioneer Valley Institute website by June 2 at or call 774-5038 to request a paper registration form.

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