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Historic Bascom Lodge on the summit of Mount Greylock is preparing to open for its 85th season.

Bascom Lodge Opening for 85th Season on Mount Greylock

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. -- Mount Greylock is a beautiful site full of history and conservation. World renowned authors and artists have been inspired by its breathtaking views. 
 
Hikers are surrounded by the sound of the forest as they begin their incline up the majestic mountain, the highest point in the state. The sounds of nature guide the hikers that venture there from the high pitch squeaking from the cluster of cedar waxwings, the scuffing of the scavenging red squirrel, to the clashing of the trees as the wind sweeps through them.  
 
Upon nightfall, voyagers are encouraged to stay at the historic Bascom Lodge. Built in 1930, the stone and wood lodge has a history of its own. Inside those walls is a story of past adventurers who explored the surrounding trails. Sit by the warm fireplace after a long day of exploring and listen to the sound of nature or on Saturday nights join the lodge for one of their jazz dinners.
 
The Bascom Lodge will be opening for its 85th season on Saturday, May 28, with infrastructure renovations thanks to the Department of Conservation and Recreation's revitalization program. 
 
"The grant gives them a chunk of money, which they would then be required to invest in their infrastructure," said John Dudek, manager of the state-owned lodge for more than a decade. "And so for the 85th anniversary, we're doing all sorts of major work to equip the lodge with the ability to make it through the next 10 to 15 years."
 
The lodge used to have 10 employees but during the last couple of years that has decreased because of the low number of applicants. The lodge is still in search for workers for this season, which runs from Memorial Day weekend to the end of October and is offering a pay starting at $18 an hour. 
 
"Last year, virtually no one applied for a job. This year so far we've gotten only a couple inquiries," Dudek said. "And then they didn't last for opening day. They contacted me, they found something else in the interim." 
 
Last year, the lodge was able to operate with four full-time employees and a couple of employees who helped with housekeeping on weekends. Dudek, a chef, runs the kitchen. 
 
Dudek and his partners in Bascom Lodge Group, Peter Dudek and Brad Parsons, wanted to keep the design of the building as authentic as it was when it was originally built.
 
Parsons was a textile designer up to a couple of years ago and he was in charge of decorating the lodge. To keep the authenticity of the time period, he chose Stickley furniture.  
 
The company he previously worked for carries the most fabric from Stickley than any other fabric producer and gave the lodge a 55 percent discount on anything they bought for the life of the project. 
 
"The furniture in the lodge is all Stickley furniture, which is one of the few American furniture companies that is still running that ran in the 1930s. So it's all arts and crafts, Stickley furniture," John Dudek said. "All the rooms have Stickley beds and Stickley chairs and the sofas in front of the fireplace."
 
The lodge spent approximately $100,000 on furniture alone and Dudek said it has held up really well. He recollected a time where a patron told the lodge that one of the chairs was "probably the most expensive chair anyone has ever sat in."
 
Keeping the lodge faithful to the period is one of their priorities. When they leased the building from the state, the linoleum flooring and vinyl walls in the bathrooms was removed and replaced with wainscoting on the walls and what Dudek and his partners thought would be a typical 1930s floor.
 
One day an elderly woman named Mrs. Love walked into the lodge and informed the staff that she had managed the lodge and her husband was the superintendent of the reservation during the Great Depression.  
 
Mrs. Love and Dudek walked through the lodge and she recollected her time there. She pointed out many differences, most to do with new regulations, and was surprised by the flooring in the bathroom. 
 
She walked into the bathroom and commented on the black and white marble tile floor, amazed that they still had it, Dudek said. He had no idea they had so faithfully replicated the style from that period that they had chosen the exact flooring that she had in the 1930s. 
 
The flooring was also redone because the state had gutted the building during the reconstruction of Rockwell and Notch roads. The largest lobby had asphalt tile on it. 
 
The dining room and the suites had their original flooring and the lobby's flooring was replaced over the years.  
 
"We just tried to maintain and restore existing material where it's possible and then where it's not possible to save something, we replace it with period appropriate material," Dudek said. 
 
Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts at 3,489 feet. It was the first designated state park in 1898 encompassing 400 acres but has since expanded and now covers 12,500 acres and is due to continue growing in the future. 
 
"It was set aside for the benefit of Massachusetts residents. And even though it started very small, it was essentially just the summit, through the years it's grown into 12,500 acres. And in the not too distant future, it'll get a little larger because I've been told someone has put a parcel of land into their will," Dudek said. 
 
Mount Greylock is the home, like many parts of Western Massachusetts, of large bodies of water. Dudek explained that the conservation work that happens is important because it ensures the quality of water that goes down the stream and connects to other bodies of water in the area. 
 
"Greylock is very important because on the other side of Greylock, to the west, the water flows towards, I believe, the housatonic [river], the water on the east flows to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound," Dudek said.
 
There are also plants and animals that live atop the summit that can not be seen anywhere else in Massachusetts because of the rarity or ecosystem. 
 
"The summit of the mountain is not in the same range as the surrounding valleys because of its elevation is actually in the Canadian zone. So there are species of plants that that live on the summit that live nowhere else in Massachusetts," he said. 
 
Dudek named a frew of these species including the lingonberry, as they call it in Europe, the snowy owl, and some endangered species of ferns that prevented the lodge from getting high-speed internet as part of a federal government initiative for public facilities. 
 
"The plants and animals that come that visit Greylock, they don't necessarily live there full time, the birds and so forth. Greylock's important because they don't necessarily nest anywhere else except on the mountain. And so it's very important to to preserve that that environment," Dudek said . . . 
 
"If it weren't for the fact that a couple of [the ferns and hedges] right behind the lodge, we would have high-speed internet. Like five years ago, they laid the underground cables to give the lodge high-speed internet and they encountered some endangered species and so they had to stop. So you can you can see the telephone pole where the wires are, but they're never going to get any further than that." 
 
The Bascom Lodge opens on Saturday, May 28, for the 2022 season. For more information visit their website

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Cheshire Holds Dedication for Father Tom Campsite

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

A Henry David Thoreau quote that Begley often used is affixed to the campsite's bike rack.
 

CHESHIRE, Mass. — Three years after the town received its official Appalachian Trail Community designation, nearly 100 community members gathered for a dedication of the Father Tom Appalachian Trail campsite.

The site, located at 6 Main St., is named after former pastor of St. Mary's Church, the Rev. Thomas Begley and opened in late 2020. The dedication, which included a ribbon-cutting by members of Begley's family, was part of the town's third annual Appalachian Trail community celebration on Friday.

"Over the past three years, the town government, along with a dedicated group of volunteers and supporters, have invested significant energy into the campsite, making it what it is today," said Cheshire AT community coordinator Eileen Quinn. "Cheshire, being one of only 51 officially designated Appalachian Trail communities, has become quite famous within thru-hiker circles for this one-of-a-kind refuge."

Quinn said the need for such a campsite came when the church could no longer offer housing for Appalachian Trail hikers, a practice Begley had started.

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