Lake Pleasant walking tour to highlight village’s religious history

  • An historical walking tour of Lake Pleasant will start and end at the Spiritualist church, at 2 Montague Ave., on Saturday. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/14/2019 6:31:45 PM
Modified: 11/14/2019 6:31:34 PM

LAKE PLEASANT — The Spiritualist church was the cultural center of Lake Pleasant from the village’s founding in the 1870s until the mid-1900s. Times may have changed, but the village’s history as a religious community is still evident.

Learn about how Lake Pleasant developed from a chartered religious community into a largely secular one during a walking tour of the village on Saturday from 1:30 to 4 p.m., starting and ending at the church at 2 Montague Ave. The tour will be led by David James, a local historian and Lake Pleasant resident.

Admission is $20, to benefit the National Spiritual Alliance. In the event of rain, the tour will be rescheduled to Sunday.

Lake Pleasant, as it exists now, began in 1870, when land speculators from Greenfield bought 50 acres at the southern tip of the lake, James said. They thinned out the woods, built tables and benches, and planned to open the area up for recreational use.

Within two years, a local Spiritualist group had become the primary user, and had begun working with the railroad company to purchase the land, expand the area and build it into a “religious resort,” James said. First it was a warm-weather community, hosting large religious retreats in the summer months. But by 1900, there were people living there year-round.

In the financial squeeze of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the cottages were sold to individual private owners, James said. Within two or three decades, the village was largely secular.

“It was a slow change, over the course of a quarter-century or so,” he said.

This weekend’s walking tour will cover various historical sites in Lake Pleasant, and will end with a slideshow of historical places that no longer exist, James said. Lake Pleasant — which has two small sections, separated by a ravine but linked by the Bridge of Names — is only about 100 acres, including wooded areas, and is home to about 160 people, he said.

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-772-0261, ext. 261.

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