Rowe Historical Society
Kemp-McCarthy Museum

The Kemp-McCarthy Museum is a member of the American Alliance of Museums.

The mission of the American Alliance of Museums is "to nurture excellence in museums" by developing standards and best practices to enable museum staffs to achieve the highest level of excellence in serving their communities and the public at large. Valuable resources are now available to us through this organization including professional literature about the issues and challenges that museums face today and in the future.


Christmas Concert on Saturday, November 29th at 4:00 p.m

Please join us for a Christmas concert on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend (November 29th) featuring noted pianist Dennis Ainsworth.  There will be a sing-a-long and tree lighting. Holiday refreshments will be served.


See You at the ARS Show!
Please look for us at the 2015 ARS Railroad Hobby Show and please visit our Hoosac Tunnel exhibits at the Kemp-McCarthy Museum!



Welcome to the website of the Rowe Historical Society.


The Rowe Historical Society owns and operates the Kemp-McCarthy Museum located at 282 Zoar Road in Rowe, Massachusetts. It opened on June 30, 1963.


The museum has an extensive collection of local artifacts and antiques. Highlights of the collection include antique quilts, 19th century dolls, period costumes, china and glassware, sleighs, furniture, photographs, cookware, tools, farm implements, and an original 19th century hearse. Exhibits are updated regularly.


The Kemp-McCarthy Museum also has many valuable photos of townspeople and local sites, as well as literature from the Davis Mine and the Yankee Atomic Electric Company.

The Hoosac Tunnel has always been important in the history of Rowe. Although the tunnel did not pass through Rowe, the east entrance is just across the river from Rowe's Neck, the stretch of Rowe land where the Big Bend of the Deerfield River flows. Of special relevance to Rowe's history was the final engineering of the tunnel, because one of the eight stone lining towers was located on Rowe's Head, the mountain just across from the tunnel's east entrance. The famous Hoosac Tunnel station was located in Rowe. Many people from Rowe worked on the tunnel project and for the Boston & Maine railroad. The Kemp-McCarthy Museum has a large exhibit of Hoosac Tunnel artifacts and memorabilia, including photographs, timetables and a new G-scale model of a B&M F-3 locomotive. Noted Hoosac Tunnel historian Jerry Kelley and his wife Gayle have made many important contributions to the museum, including a large collection of rare stereo views of the tunnel. The museum also periodically hosts special programs related to the Hoosac Tunnel. Please scroll to the bottom of this page to learn more about our involvement with the history of the Hoosac tunnel.


The Rowe Historical Society publishes The Bulletin, dedicated to the preservation of local history by highlighting "bits of history, old letters, pictures, news clippings and anything of interest to the history of Rowe," and The Rowe Historical Society Newsletter, featuring information on upcoming events and programs.


Many books are published by the Rowe Historical Society, including The History of Rowe, Massachusetts by Percy Whiting Brown and Nancy Newton Williams.


The Kemp-McCarthy Museum is open to the public every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. from July through mid-October, and at other times by appointment. Concerts, holiday celebrations, literary programs, and other cultural activities are held at the museum throughout the year.


Our website also provides useful information on membership in the Rowe Historical Society and directions to the Kemp-McCarthy Museum.

If you've never been to our town or museum, you can learn more about us by visiting  


The Kemp-McCarthy Museum is open every Sunday from July 20 until October 12. The hours of operation are 2-4 p.m.

We have so much news....please explore this page to learn about all the recent happenings at the RHS!


John Anderson returns to the Carriage House at the Rowe Historical Society for "A Literary Conversation with Washington Irving." During the program you can listen to and talk with Washington Irving about his roots in New York, his Sketchbook stories (including "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"), his tours of the American West, and his diplomatic career in Europe.

The Carriage House will be transformed into an autumn wonderland, complete with decorations, lights, and many other surprises. Refreshments will be served.

During his last visit to the Rowe Historical Society as Robert Frost, Anderson drew a standing-room-only crowd. Don't miss our on what promises to be one of our best and most colorful events ever!

John Dennis Anderson is the Interim Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at Emerson College in Boston. Dr. Anderson is renowned for his interpretative performances, publications, reviews in scholarly journals, and in-depth interviews. He has received numerous academic and professional awards for his expertise and performances.

 Our Friends at the Hicks Family Farm
Celebrate Autumn with a Traditional Corn Maze

The Hicks Family Farm Corn Maze is open on weekends through October from 10 am until 5 pm. "Haunted Nights" will be held from 7-9:30 pm on October 10,11,17,18,24 & 25.

You can find this traditional fall attraction at 1255 Mohawk Trail (Route2) in Charlemont, MA. More information is available at


Trustee John Magnago Directs the Oral History Project

Thanks to the efforts and hard work of Trustee John Magnago, our oral history project continues successfully.

This summer, John has interviewed many townspeople and recorded their recollections and observations for future generations.

Recently, John interviewed noted artist Helene Glass in her studio. Helene's work has been displayed in galleries in the U.S. and abroad.Coincidentally, Helene cites John Marin as one of her favorite artists, and Marin, too, was inspired during his time spent in Rowe.


The Rowe Historical Society & Kemp-McCarthy Museum Join
 Time Travelers:
RHS Members Will Benefit

Members of the Rowe Historical Society now have an important bonus included free with all paid memberships: exclusive benefits and privileges at over 250 organizations in more than 40 states across the country, such as free or discounted admission and gift shop discounts. Time Travelers, a reciprocal membership network for historical sites and museums throughout the United States, now includes the Rowe Historical Society (and its members) in this network.

The Rowe Historical Society is one of seven Massachusetts museums to participate in the program; others include the Nantucket Historical Association, Falmouth Museums on the Green, the Jackson Homestead in Historic Newton, the Shirley-Eustis House Museum in Roxbury, the Westford Historical Society and Museum, and the Worcester Historical Museum.  Many Rowe members spend part of the year in Florida, and there are many museum in the "Sunshine State" that participate in this program, including historical society museums in Fort Lauderdale, Key West and Tampa Bay.

Time Travelers is sponsored by the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. To see other museums nationwide that participate in the network, visit

Remember to have your Rowe Historical Society membership card with you when you travel in order to receive these benefits at network museums.

New Exhibit on Rowe's Mines
Sundays from 2-4 P.M.
Kemp-McCarthy Museum
Until October 12

The Davis Sulphur Ore Company, more commonly known as the Davis Mine, operated between 1882 and 1911. It was a major source of sulfur ("sulphur") for use in the chemical industry in the U.S. and Europe. Rowe's ore was especially valuable because it contained a very small amount of arsenic.

You can learn about the mine, the geology of the area, the people who labored there, the uses of the product, the horse teams and teamsters, and even see rocks from the now closed mine.

Plan to come to the Kemp-McCarthy Museum to experience this exciting and informative new exhibit. We are open on Sundays from 2-4 p.m. until October 12th.

This is a great exhibit for all ages! Please join us for this FREE exhibit and learn about this little known but very important part of our local history.

FREE - SUNDAYS - 2-4 through OCTOBER 12

"Davis was not an isolated mountain town. There may not have been any churches, but there was certainly lots going on. Dances and parties were frequent. The children long remembered the big Christmas party given every year by Mrs. Davis."  From the Rowe Historical Society Bulletin, Summer 1984

The Davis Mine Band
Thomas and Anna Boullie raised a wonderfully large and happy family (shown above) at Davis Mine in Rowe. Eleven children were born to them from 1890 to 1907.

Thomas Boullie and Anna Pelchat were both born in the area of St. Charles, Quebec, Canada. Why and when Charles came to Davis Mine is uncertain; but with his logging experience, Tom soon became a contractor for cutting the woodlots belonging to the Davis Mine Company. Eventually, Tom had more than fifty woodchoppers working for him.

Throughout their lifetime, the Boullie parents spoke French, and their children answered in English.

Tom died in Rowe at age eighty-two; Anna was eighty-six when she passed away.

Many of their descendants live in western Massachusetts.

From the Rowe Historical Society Bulletin, Summer 1984

Below: More "Faces from Rowe's Mines" now on display at the Kemp-McCarthy Museum

New in Our Boston & Maine - Hoosac Tunnel Collection
(from 1944)


Preserving Our Historical Documents for Future Generations

The trustees are working hard to develop effective strategies to preserve our historical documents for future generations. The effects of time, humidity, and other problems have resulted in the deterioration of some of our most important holdings.

Recently, a group of trustees consulted with document preservation professionals at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. Trustees Ellen Miller and John Magnago (above) are shown at work in the Center.

The next issue of the Bulletin will contain detailed information on this very important project.


John Marin in Rowe

The renowned artist John Marin first came to Rowe in 1918.

He and his wife and small son rented a cabin located near the junction of Dell and Cyrus Stage Roads. The cabin was torn down in 1976.

During his time here he created many notable watercolors. Region Rowe Massachusetts, 1918, recently sold at auction for $62,500.

One critic noted that while he lived in Rowe, Marin created a style of abstraction which probably led to his future success as an artist.

At first, Marin was quite unhappy residing in this corner of Franklin County. He laments the loneliness he felt in this remote rural area, and describes the town as "a place I call God forsaken."

Eventually, his view of the town softened and he expressed his regret at having to leave Rowe and return to New Jersey.

John Marin received many accolades during his life, and is now regarded as the preeminent watercolorist of his era.

Recently, the U.S. Postal Service issued a series of stamps commemorating important American artists and their works. John Marin is one of the 12 artists in this series, Modern Art in America 1913-1931.

Living in Rowe has profoundly changed many people; the gifted and complicated artist John Marin certainly was no exception.

The Rowe Historical Society's collection of information related to the life of John Marin will be on display when the Kemp-McCarthy Museum opens in July.

A Valuable Collection Given to the Museum

Hoosac Tunnel expert Jerry Kelley and his wife, Gayle, have given the Kemp-McCarthy Museum an exceptionally fine collection of rare postcards and stereo views of the Hoosac Tunnel.

Thank you, Jerry and Gayle, for your ongoing generosity.

Shown below: Image of a Hoosac Tunnel Switcher( from the collection)





Thank you to the hundreds of people who made Rail-Fan a huge success! Read all about it here: