The cupola of the restored 1792 schoolhouse, where Phoebe Jordan cast her famous vote in 1920, is featured on the flag.
BOSTON — The official flag of the town of New Ashford will now hang in the Great Hall of Flags at the State House. New Ashford, settled in 1762, did not previously have a town flag.
Town officials and residents were welcomed Wednesday to Beacon Hill by state Sen. Adam Hinds and state Rep. John Barrett III of North Adams
Hinds, who encouraged and supported New Ashford during the flag creation period, was excited to see the final product presented to be hung at the State House.
"The flags hanging in the Great Hall of the Massachusetts State House are meant to represent all residents of the Commonwealth, from every community," he said. "Every day, Massachusetts residents can be found searching for their hometown flag in the Great Hall. I'm so pleased that today, New Ashford joins the hundreds of other Massachusetts communities in hanging a flag in the State House for all to admire on Beacon Hill."
Barrett was also pleased to see the last of his communities have their town flag on display on Beacon Hill.
"I am pleased that all of the communities in the First Berkshire District now have their flags hanging in the Great Hall of Flags in the State House," he said. "New Ashford will stand proud with the rest of the communities in my district, and all the other communities throughout the state, as their flags are there for all to see."
Members of the New Ashford Select Board are happy to see the town now represented on Beacon Hill with a flag.
"New Ashford is thankful for Senator Hinds' advocacy and support for small towns within his district for continued viability and growth," the board said in a joint statement. "As a result of his advocacy, New Ashford is proud to be on the map on (2) fronts: representation in the State House with our newly established town flag, and high-speed broadband internet operation which is now offered to every address currently served by street utilities."
The flag was designed by local artist and historian Cindy Grosso of New Ashford. In working through the design, Grosso was deliberate in incorporating important symbols of the town. In the foreground is the steeple of a local church and cupolas of the local schoolhouses. The church, in particular, has significance for New Ashford as it carries with it an unusual backstory. According to local legend, the church was built with funds of a local gambler, whose only restriction was that dice with the lucky 5 be part of the construction. The fives give the church an uncommon feature. The dice can be found on the exterior of the building and are often overlooked in spite of their presence. This is a story known to many in New Ashford.
Also in the foreground are two cupolas. They are found on top of the recently refurbished one-room schoolhouse, and the "new" one-room schoolhouse, now used for the Town Hall. The old schoolhouse has particular national significance. It was where Phoebe Jordan cast the famous vote on Nov. 2, 1920, as the first of 11 women voters in New Ashford to cast a ballot for president in a national election after the passage of the 19th Amendment. This was the first election in which all American women had the right to vote for president. New Ashford still uses the same wooden ballot box for elections.
Additionally, in the background, Grosso was thoughtful to incorporate imagery of Mount Greylock. In the distance is the Mount Greylock War Memorial sitting atop the tallest mountain in the state. Many from New Ashford have hiked to the summit. New Ashford is often responsible for fire and rescue services on the mountain as much of it is located within New Ashford's borders.
"New Ashford is a small town of diverse skills where residents come together with their neighbors to create a close-knit community and enjoy the benefits of a small town," said Grosso. "The town of New Ashford holds many memories for me as it does for many in this town. You can still find many families residing here with ties to three and four generations of their family."
New Ashford's flag was presented to the Bureau of the State House during Wednesday's ceremony in the Great Hall of Flags.
The Great Hall of Flags serves as the largest function room in the Massachusetts State House. Two decades ago the Bureau began collecting flags from the 351 commonwealth communities to display them throughout the Great Hall, thereby improving the acoustics of the room. With only a dozen municipal flags outstanding, the Bureau is currently working on completing its collection.
Once properly cataloged by the Bureau, New Ashford's flag will be added to the impressive array of municipal flags in the Great Hall of Flags to be admired by all State House visitors.
While in Boston, the delegation from New Ashford also enjoyed a tour of the historic State House.
There continue to be four communities from Hinds' Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden Senate District without a flag in the Great Hall: Alford, Hawley, Savoy and West Stockbridge.
"I'd love to help bring these final flags to the State House," said Hinds. "Anyone from Alford, Hawley, Savoy or West Stockbridge interested in working on a town flag is encouraged to call my office to get the specifics."
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