Gould’s Sugarhouse in Shelburne won’t open this year

  • Linda Gould bottles syrup at Gould’s Maple Sugarhouse in Shelburne last season. The Gould family announced it will not be open this spring after a 60-year run. STAFF File PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Helen Gould of Gould’s Maple Sugarhouse. Staff FILE PHOTO/DIANE BRONCACCIO

  • Gould’s Maple Sugarhouse is a popular stop along the Mohawk Trail in Shelburne. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 2/4/2020 4:44:16 PM

SHELBURNE — This spring will be the first time in 60 years that Gould’s Maple Sugarhouse does not open to welcome travelers from throughout Franklin County, the state and New England for a breakfast of pancakes, corn fritters, waffles and more.

After speaking with a family friend Tuesday morning, the Greenfield Recorder learned that a decision about whether the local landmark on the Mohawk Trail will reopen at some point in the future has not yet been made. He said that Helen Gould, who is now in her 90s, and her sons and daughters will make that decision, but for 2020, it will be closed. Gould’s also opens for several weeks in the fall during foliage season.

At about 7:30 p.m. Monday, Gould’s posted on Facebook, “After a great success, as our family made pancakes and maple syrup for all to enjoy, we, as a family, have decided not to open Gould’s this year. Mom and all of us thank you for visiting us for the past 60 wonderful years.”

And many people have fond memories of visiting and eating at the Route 2 landmark.

Wid Perry, who grew up in Montague, said when he would return on leave from serving in the U.S. Navy, he and his friends would visit Gould’s for their yearly treat. Then, when he came home to Franklin County for good, he and his family made it an annual tradition.

“Going during the week was better, because the wait wasn’t so bad,” Perry said.

Anyone who has visited Gould’s knows that lines to get into the restaurant are typically long, leaving people to wait for up to two hours to get a table on the weekend. While waiting, guests could watch the maple sugar-making process or shop in the gift shop.

“It was a welcomed treat for my mother-in-law, who would share her pancakes with her young granddaughter,” Perry recalled. “We’d eagerly wait for it to open each spring.”

Perry said the key was to get there early with something to read to be one of the first people to get a table.

“If we didn’t get there early, we’d roam through the gift shop, watch videos of previous sugaring seasons and, of course, sit on a bench with a maple snow cone and watch the sugaring taking place at that moment,” he said.

Perry said he also looked forward to reading Helen Gould’s updates about her family and the business. He said they’d sit to order and find the updates on the paper menus.

“It caught us up on a whole year worth of news,” he said.

Joe Judd, a Recorder columnist, Shelburne town clerk and former Shelburne Selectboard member who has lived in Shelburne for 46 years, said Gould’s Maple Sugarhouse is a true local landmark.

“You’ll not find a finer family than the Goulds,” he said. “Six generations have farmed these lands for more than 300 years. And, the sugarhouse is more than 60 years old. It’s New England at its best.”

He said when you think “maple sugar” in Franklin County, there are a lot of sugarers that come to mind, but Gould’s is the epitome, rising to the top of the list.

“It’s synonymous with the old way of doing it,” Judd said. “They’ve stuck to their roots using wood burners.”

Judd said while everyone is waiting to hear what’s going to happen, they are speculating. It’s possible a family member or someone else might want to carry on the business, so Judd suggests that residents shouldn’t think it’s closed for good until an announcement is officially made by the family.

“If people give them time, they’ll ponder the future, this time for themselves,” he said. “They’ve been so good about being stewards, and doing what’s right for the land and the sugarhouse and the town.”

Judd said he would visit Gould’s Maple Sugarhouse with his family every year.

“I would go with a lawn chair and sit and read the newspaper until my name was called,” he said. “My family would come a little later so we didn’t all have to wait. Once I got a table, they’d join me. I became an expert at knowing when to get there and what to do while I was waiting.”

Dan Brown, who lived in Shelburne and Shelburne Falls for 11 years and Franklin County for 45 and now lives in New Mexico, said going to Gould’s in the spring always felt like a rite of passage. He said he could almost taste the waffles with butter melting over them before he got there.

Brown said he will be returning to Franklin County this spring to visit family.

“It’s not going to be the same,” he said. “I loved the waffles and sausages and walking through the gift shop, and I was always impressed by the wood stack outside to feed the wood burners.”

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Diana Szynal said she was disappointed to hear Gould’s Maple Sugarhouse was closing this year. She said she hopes it isn’t permanent.

“It’s such a landmark,” she said. “But it’s more than that — it’s wonderful to be able to watch the process while waiting, but even more wonderful that school children were able to do so and learn.”

Szynal said she’s afraid people in this area take for granted the “syrup gold” produced in Franklin County, but hopes they appreciate it. She said she takes co-workers to breakfast or lunch every month, and was planning to take them to Gould’s this spring.

“We’ll miss that perfect breakfast of pancakes and pickles,” she said.

On a personal note, Szynal said she remembers visiting Gould’s with her parents when she was younger.

“I still have a little sock doll dressed in a pink dress with wild yarn hair and embroidered eyes,” she said. “Whenever I pull it out, I think about the good times there each year. I have such happy memories. I’d love to hear they’re going to keep going.”

Szynal said Gould’s Maple Sugarhouse has been a big draw for people traveling west on the Mohawk Trail.

“It has certainly pulled business into that area,” she said. “It would be a blow if we lose it.”

Kim Stevens, co-owner of Hager Brothers Farm and Farm Market on the Mohawk Trail, agreed that Gould’s has been a “great asset” to the area.

“It’s sad to see it close,” she said. “There’s something really special about it. It pulls a lot of people into Shelburne and up the trail. Many people have stopped at our place on their way there.”

Howard Boyden, owner of Boyden Brothers Maple on Route 116 in Conway, said he would hate to see a multigenerational business close permanently. He described Gould’s as a positive icon for the maple syrup industry.

“I have a lot of respect for the Goulds,” Boyden said. “I understand that everyone has their reasons for doing what they need to do. I just can’t imagine people going up the trail looking for them and finding it closed.”

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.


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