leverett MA

I was talking to my friend Erin the other day about the last place I lived before coming to the Bay Area. This is what I said …

Right before I moved out west, I lived in a small rural town in Western Massachusetts. The town is called Leverett. Population roughly 1,600. I lived in an early 19th century farmhouse. Very beautiful – painted white, with arched green shutters. Many people thought it was associated with the town’s congregational church, which was designed by the same architect and looked like a carbon copy, except bigger and with a steeple.leverett farmhouse

Leverett isn’t in the mountains, exactly, but it’s at a higher elevation than the valley floor (Amherst, Northampton). It was part of what was called the Hilltowns. So in winter, it was slightly colder, there would be a slightly larger snowdump, snow when the valley was only getting rain. That sort of thing. The house sat at the fork of a few roads, one of which was dirt. I would often walk my dog, Luna,  on the dirt road.

Winter nights in New England can be so still.

I love the luminosity of stars in a rural night sky, being able to see the band that is the edge of the Milky Way. There’s a children’s book, written by Jane Yolen (who lives in Northampton), called “Owl Moon” that captures winter stillness perfectly.

The house was partially heated by a woodstove. And so late summer meant, besides corn, stacking wood and preparing for the coming cold. I wondered when I moved west whether I would miss winter. I thought for sure I would. And I should say that I do, but not with longing. If that makes sense. Because winter is hard in New England. Of course I cherish my memory of Luna who, after a huge 3-foot snowstorm, bounded down the front steps and then disappeared – literally, disappeared – into the whiteness. Or seeing winter ceremonies, like town candle lightings, that seem to have so much more meaning when you’re standing in sub-zero temperatures, huddled with others from the community.

One other thing about the house in Leverett. My neighbors across the way were a husband and wife, Phil and Kay. They had lived in their house since 1951. At a time when many of the homes in Leverett still didn’t have indoor plumbing. Can you believe it? No indoor plumbing. In 1951. Phil told me a story once about the water supply to the house. Apparently, at one time, there was a small pipe from the town reservoir that ran to the four houses in the area where ours were located. It dripped into a cistern in Phil’s basement (and I guess in mine). But one winter there was some kind of problem. The pipe stopped dripping. So Phil would drive his truck up this windy road, with a spring that runs down alongside it, into a town at a higher elevation and stop at an old horse-watering trough. He’d proceed to fill up cans of water. Then haul it all back down to his house. He did this for six months.

I’m definitely a city boy. But an Owl Moon has its appeal.



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3 responses to “leverett MA

  1. Dan is on FACEBOOK

    That’s always been my favorite house. The whole “feel” changes once you make that turn on Depot Rd. and pass that house…then you’re in a much sweeter, gentler place for the next mile or two….

  2. Hi there –

    Believe it or not, we are on the point of buying the house in Leverett (98 Depot Rd) that you mention in your blog post. We adore the house already, but were wondering if you could let us know any history or information about it. If you have a chance, could you email me? I’d be so grateful to hear anything more you could say about this unique and lovely building.

    Your description of Leverett sounds wonderful. (We live in Amherst now.) I’m hoping we’ll be able to experience winter there ourselves!


    Jenn Chylack (jchylack@comcast.net)

  3. Bluey Lane

    we just drove by this the other day and it looks like it is still for sale. a+ on the shingle, copper and details. it’s beautiful. we will try to get in to see it next week.

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