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Hilltown Voices: Mystery at Meekins, St. Patrick’s Day dinner at Creamery, and more

  • Zachariah Vaughan, owner of Grace paint and Tile, works on the lettering on the side of the Old Creamery Co-op in Cummington, 2017. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 3/6/2020 11:55:00 AM
Modified: 3/6/2020 11:54:47 AM

In the depths of the Meekins Library’s original 1896 basement, nooks and crannies conceal long-forgotten items from the past.

While doing a little reorganizing this winter, archivist Daria D’Arienzo came upon three large antique metal light fixtures that have sparked a mystery she hopes to unravel with help from the public.

D’Arienzo said she is keen to find out when and where the lights were installed and what the library looked like at the time they were in use.

It might seem like a simple research task; however, a complete lack of records and photographs has thrown a wrench in the works.

Though built and operated as a public library, Meekins was privately governed until 1997, when the oversight of the library was brought under town control.

As such, there are no town records to research, and nothing exists in the older documents of the library that relates to D’Arienzo’s search.

She assumes the library had electricity prior to the addition of the mezzanine in 1926 but said she can’t be certain.

“There is virtually no information on file to look at,” D’Arienzo said. “Nothing about when the library got electricity and no photographs of the inside of the building at that time, at least that we are aware of.”

D’Arienzo is hoping that somewhere in a family photo collection or in the archives of a self-styled local historian or library buff, there will be old photographs of the inside of Meekins that could shed light on the mystery of the antique fixtures.

Standing 6 feet tall, the fixtures are thought to be the original lights that were installed when the building was first wired for electricity. D’Arienzo believes the three lights hung from the ceiling.

While two of the fixtures are in bad condition, the library has commissioned local metal artist James Kitchen to refurbish the third.

“They are so lovely and ornate,” D’Arienzo said. “We would love to see what they all looked like in the building.”

According to D’Arienzo, once Kitchen completes the restoration, the fixture will be displayed on one of the original stone walls in the library.

“It would be nice to be able to put up information and photographs around it,” she said. “With the town celebrating its 250th anniversary, we are all thinking about our history, and this would be an interesting mystery to solve.”

Anyone who has early interior photographs of Meekins or any information about the mystery lights should contact Daria D’Arienzo at 413-268-7472.

Hilltown scion swap

WESTHAMPTON — The 2020 Hilltown Winter Scion Swap will be held in Westhampton this year, this Sunday from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Westhampton Library.

Speaker Matt Kaminisky will share information on building resilient orchards and incorporating wild and unique varieties. He will also be demonstrating basic grafting techniques and answering questions from participants.

Beginning and experienced grafters are welcome. You do not have to bring scion wood to attend. The suggested donation for this event is $10. For more information, contact Sadie Stull at 413-634-5013.

 St. Patrick’s Day dinner at the Creamery

CUMMINGTON — The Old Creamery Co-op in Cummington will offer a St. Patrick’s Day dinner on Tuesday, March 17. Customers can pick up a plate of corned beef and cabbage for $13 if they pre-order the meal by March 12th. For more information, contact the Creamery at 413-634-5560

Ideas for this column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at

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