Mayor Thomas Bernard poses with the Eclipse Mill's Michael Bedford, left, and Alex Baker by the photographs donated to the city by the mill.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Two panoramic images of the mountains of Sister Cities North Adams and Tremosine, Italy, are now on permanent display at City Hall.
Taken by photographer Kelly Lee nearly 20 years ago, the landscapes have been on display for years at the Eclipse Mill where Lee had had a loft.
The City Council accepted the gift from the Eclipse Mill Lofts Condominium Trust in late September and the aluminum-framed images were hung in the lobby near the Sister Cites sign before Thanksgiving.
Eclipse Mill resident Michael Bedford, who facilitated the donation, said there were two reasons for the donation.
"One is these belong to the city not to the Eclipse Mill. We bought them from Kelly Lee and they've been in the mill for I don't know how many years," he said. "And we wanted to celebrate the mill's history within North Adams and the old industrial park to tell a little bit of that."
Shifting the images to City Hall will allow more people — particularly city residents — to enjoy them, he said, while opening up space at the mill for the exhibit focusing on the mill's history.
"We got the idea that as you come into the Eclipse Mill, it'll be nice to have an exhibition of historical photos of the mill itself, and the people that worked there," said Alex Baker, a photographer and vice chairman of the condominium association. He has been using the Lewis Hine collection and working with the North Adams Historical Society and others to gather interesting photos for the exhibit. "And where these two pictures used to hang is exactly where we wanted to put it."
Lee had exhibited a number of his photographs and paintings with in the mill. The panoramas were purchased by trust in 2011.
The North Adams image is of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and St. Elizabeth's Church with the mountains in the background apparently taken from Veterans Memorial Bridge. It's 5-feet wide and 16 inches high.
The Tremosine sul Garda image is 4-feet wide and 16 inches high and was taken in 2005 during one of the tours to the Lake Garda region in Northern Italy started by Edward Morandi and the late Dr. John Moresi. North Adams and Tremosine became Sister City partners that year.
Many of North Adams' residents have family who came from that region. One of the first immigrants from Tremosine was a Rosasco; he was followed by Bonas, Cellanas, Cozzaglios, Desrosiers, Donatis, Faustinis, Franzonis, Ghidottis, Marchettis, Morandis, Moresis, Pedercinis, Remillards, Spragues, and Veraschis — just a snapshot of a lengthy list of names that can be found in the city and around the Berkshires.
"It's not just the connection between the Eclipse Mill as part of the city but also the connection to history and the Sister City relationship," said Mayor Thomas Bernard. "You can understand why people who came to this area, it looked and felt a little bit like home and why it feels like going home for the people who have some sort of historic connection to Tremosine."
While both mountainous, the North Adams image is of gently rolling hills with one of the mills where many of those immigrants worked and the "Italian church," the former St. Anthony's, in the foreground.
Tremosine's mountains are sharper and higher and snow-capped, its building's roofs tiled in red but its fields roll down its steep sides.
The donation is a permanent gift and estimated at $500.
"We're very happy with the way things have worked out, it's great that we have a home for these here because they really belong to all of North Adams, not to the Eclipse," said Baker. "And now when people come into the mill, they really enjoy walking down the ramp that goes into the first floor of the mill and seeing the photographs [of the mill] and looking at them."
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