My name is Rebecca Smith and I am president of the Pittsfield MA historical commission and a board member of the Berkshire Historical Society.
As I am certain you know, Thomas Allen … of the Central Pacific Railroad [sic] ... was the grandson of Pittsfield’s first pastor, Thomas Allen, known as the famous "fighting parson" as he kept a musket under the alter at the congregational church in our historic Park Square during the Revolutionary War. His grandson Thomas headed west to St. Louis, owned a granite quarry, became a state senator and then retired back in Pittsfield where he donated the city’s first library, the arch at the Pittsfield Cemetery and other philanthropic works.
His son, William Russell Allen, built a grand mansion in the center of town. When he died, the house was willed to St. Luke’s Hospital ... then acquired by the state of Massachusetts and now lies boarded up. Thomas’s gravesite is marked by a fabulous piece of Missouri polished granite. It took a special rail car to bring it to the city … dragged 1,000 feet per day through town to the cemetery … famous event for the city.
Our two historical groups, working with the city and the state, are intending to restore the house and open it as a museum of the guilded age. Our society is based at Arrowhead … Melville’s home, where he wrote Moby Dick ... but we have extensive collections which cannot be displayed until we find another museum.
I own the mansion built by Thomas Allen’s childhood friend, Thaddeus Clapp. Thaddeus and the Rev. Todd of the Pittsfield both attended the ceremony.
We would very much like to work with your museum in commemorating the railroad as there is such a connection. I don’t even know the approach yet, but would greatly appreciate any thought. What information, memorabilia, etc., do you have on Thomas Allen? ... photographs?
Again, we would appreciate any ideas or information ...
The Thaddeus Clapp House
... an elegant bed & breakfast in the Berkshires
74 Wendell Avenue
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Phone Toll Free: 1.888.499.6840