From Edward Pressey’s “History of Montague”. “When Hunting Hills was established as a separate district apart from Sunderland in 1753, it was named Montague . . .”
Book VI of Pressey’s history offers “Winning Democracy.” Access our DataBase, navigate to Montague Mass Historical Society then to Montague Center and find “Winning Democracy.” Read it in its entirety.
The development of Montague Center was encouraged by the availability of nearby waterpower sources and surrounding cultivatable land. Agricultural prosperity and the industrialization of the Connecticut River, its major tributaries, including the Sawmill River—that runs through the area—led to a rapid increase in population. Montague Center had grown into an established rural village serving a diverse productive region.
The growth of industrial sites on the Sawmill River (eleven at its apex of growth) and its location to vital transportation routes, the “Center” became a hub of commercial activity in central Franklin County during the mid to late 1700’s. The village was ideally suited for settlement because of its’ vital location. As the Connecticut River Valley becomes more industrialized in the mid-nineteenth century, small manufacturers and their families appeared. The community is growing.
The industrial economy of Western Massachusetts declined in the twentieth century. Montague Center gradually returned to its earlier rural presence. The factories are gone, the mills repurposed. The “Center’s” design as a junction community with an attractive village green—richly conveys the image of a mid-nineteenth century New England agricultural community.
The Connecticut River Scenic Farm Byway winds its way through the village. The village center has the original Town Hall (1858), the Congregational Church (1834) and the Montague Common Hall (formerly the Unitarian Meetinghouse 1835 and Grange Hall 1904) all facing the common. This—the Montague Center Historic District—is listed in the National Historic Register of Places.
The Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area, is located a short distance from the center. This popular area offers opportunities for nature walks, picnics, bird watching and seasonal hunting (pheasant, deer, small game) for those so inclined.
The Montague Mill, formerly the 19th century Alvah Stone Grist Mill, houses a used book store, artist galleries, antique shops, a small cafe and restaurant that overlook the Sawmill River and the remnants of the former dams.
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