The magic of old photographs

The magic of old photographs

Pictured above: Mr. & Mrs. Spencer Miller and Spencer Miller, Jr. 1895

There is a charm in finding an old photograph; in seeing an image of a place you know, but taken when it was a hundred years younger. The trees are smaller, the neighboring buildings are different, and of course the people in the photo are wearing the clothes of a past time.

Recently I was going through some boxes of old papers at the Strong House, and I found this print of a family group in the front yard, taken in 1895, when the house was still a private residence…

Archaeology at the Strong House

Archaeology at the Strong House

The Amherst Historical Society is applying for a grant so we can commission a professional engineering/structural analysis of the Strong House and grounds. Surprisingly, such an analysis has never been done before. But since we hope to soon have approval for our amendment of the Emerson will, we will need the analysis in order to be able to make the changes to the building required for handicap accessibility and HVAC installation.

We did have an analysis of the grounds, using ground-penetrating radar, and some archaeological work was done in 2016 by field supervisor Tim Barker, of UMass, and some students. We have a video in which he describes his approach to this kind of archaeology, but he never gave a follow-up talk to describe his findings.

Join us at noon on October 8 for the History Bites lecture on the New Haven – Northampton Canal.  The Zoom link for the lecture is


The Museum needs volunteer docents! We are open from noon to 4 on Saturdays, and you can sign up on Sign Up Genius here, or send an email to


Remember to register here for the Brutalism Symposium at UMass, October 22 – 23.
Heath Connections – The Emersons of Amity Street

Heath Connections – The Emersons of Amity Street

Sally, John, Felicia, Frances, Alma and Laura

These are the names of the Emerson family members who came to live in Amherst in January 1846. They moved here from Heath, Massachusetts and after 1853 the family lived in the Simeon Strong House. Heath is located 17 miles (27 km) northwest of Greenfield along the Vermont border. When Felicia Emerson Welch died in 1916, the house became the home of the Amherst Historical Society in accordance with the longstanding wishes of Sally, Alma, Laura and Felicia.

The Emerson family’s interests included music, religion, education, poetry and history. They welcomed family and friends to this home and rented rooms to boarders. They were active participants in the social, religious and civic life of Amherst and valued as neighbors and friends.

This exhibit brought together objects and information related to the Emerson family to help us understand who lived in the Simeon Strong House, a topic we will be exploring over the next several years. You will find individual biographies for each family member throughout the room along with information about friends and neighbors, particularly those with connections to Heath.

The Emersons maintained close ties to Heath, visiting the town and receiving Heath residents into their Amherst home as visitors and boarders. All of the immediate family are buried in Heath. Felicia and Laura were founding members of both the library and historical society in Heath and Felicia donated the site of Fort Shirley to the historical society.

We are pleased to re-establish Amherst connections with Heath. The Heath Historical Society generously lent a number of items for this exhibition and enhanced our understanding of the Emerson family.

Photos of John, Frances, and Alma and Laura courtesy of the Heath Historical Society. Donated by Felicia Emerson Welch.