Waking up out west
Rural town is hoping to rejuvenate with a growing arts scene
GREENFIELD -- Located in the state’s most rural county, Greenfield is starting to wipe the sleep from its eyes. In the last year, an espresso bar, wood-fired pizzeria, and music hall have opened along the once-dormant Main Street and Bank Row. Long overshadowed by neighboring cultural heavyweights in the Knowledge Corridor (busy Amherst and Northampton), this former industrial town at the confluence of the Deerfield, Green, and Connecticut rivers is beginning to come into its own.
Each room at the Poetry Ridge Bed and Breakfast (55 Stone Ridge Lane, 413-773-5143, www.rkotours.com, $125-$195) is named after a New England poet. Book the Frederick Goddard Tuckerman with a giant working fireplace and curl up with a sonnet. If breakfast is your favorite part of the B&B experience the House on the Hill (330 Leyden Road, 413-774-2070, www.thehouseonthehillbnb.com, $105-$145) is for you. A pair of Brooklyn transplants, Donna and Alain Mollard, who specialize in farm-fresh breakfasts made with local ingredients, make your stay in this quiet retreat peaceful and tasty. The stately Brandt House (29 Highland Ave., 413-774-3329, www.brandthouse.com, $95-$295) is a few blocks from town in Greenfield’s hidden historic district. A wraparound porch, complimentary coffee, tea, wine (upon request), and a comforting library await your undernourished soul. For a posh yet classic New England experience, look no farther than the Deerfield Inn (81 Main St., 413-774-5587, www.deerfieldinn.com, $175-$300) nestled in this early-American town three miles south of Greenfield Center.
The warmth of the pizza ovens and the smell of fresh garlic greet you at Magpie Woodfired Pizzeria (21 Bank Row, 413-475-3570, www.magpiepizza.com, pizzas $9-$14). There is a reason this gourmet pizzeria, which opened in July, is mobbed on weekends. Wonderfully fresh salads ($9.50) and pies topped with house-made sausage, broccoli rabe, and fresh cheese ($14) make a perfect pairing. Around the corner Hope & Olive (44 Hope St., 413-774-3150, www.hopeandolive.com, $9-$23) is as upscale as Greenfield gets: a kitchen specializing in from-scratch cuisine in swanky digs you don’t have to dress up for. With vegetarian options and artisan bread, too. To get a true taste of Greenfield, wet your whistle at the People’s Pint (24 Federal St., 413-773-0333, www.thepeoplespint.com, lunch $5-$8, dinner, $8-$13). When they say local they mean it in this rustically hip brewpub, where beer is pulled through old English-style taps. The 100 percent local ale made with barley from Hadley, wheat from Belchertown, and hops from Northfield pairs nicely with a ploughman’s platter of cheese, bread, and tangy pickles. A locavore’s delight. Revive the next morning with a golden girl smoothie ($4) at the Siren Cafe (204 Main St., 413-376-4787, www.thesirencafe.com, breakfast plates $7-$8). You’ll feel like a regular within minutes of arriving in this friendly gluten-free spot.
DURING THE DAY
Snowshoe, hike, or just walk to the Poet’s Seat Tower (Mountain Road) for a 360-degree view of the Green River Valley below. This vista has drawn poets for decades and may inspire you to pen a few lines. Climb the spiral staircase for a better view and, if the weather permits, pack a lunch from Green Fields Market (144 Main St., www.greenfieldsmarket.coop, 413-773-9567) where fresh bread, brilliant produce, and organic edibles await in this locally supported co-op. Should you need more inspiration for the written word, there are four bookstores in town to keep you going. Sci-fi and beat literature rule the racks at Federal Street Books (8 Federal St., Greenfield, 413-772-6564). This well-supplied store of used books, where William Burroughs shares shelf space with Homer, feels plucked from Greenwich Village, complete with counterculture owner Tom Swetland. If it’s more popular titles you crave, Raven Used Books (5 Bank Row, 413-772-1968, www.ravenusedbooks.com) is likely to oblige. The second outpost of the popular Northampton store is less crowded and burgeoning with books on gardening and cooking. Because no book session is complete without a decent cup of java, Greenfield Coffee (1 Bank Row, 413-325-8049, www.highercup.com) came to the rescue last year. The latte art at this third-wave coffee shop is almost too exquisite to drink. In good weather a courtyard between Raven Books and Greenfield Coffee is the place to be. If all this intellectual stimulation has got you footloose, carve some turns at Berkshire East Ski Resort (South River Road, Charlemont, 413-339-6617, www.berkshireeast.com) or join the Mohawk Trail (www.mohawktrail.com) that courses through town.
The Arts Block (289 Main St., www.theartsblock.com, 413-774-0150) is the shot of adrenalin Greenfield’s anemic night life desperately needed. Fully functional since January, this rehabbed four-story building on Main Street has live music several nights a week and a cafe serving light fare Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Diagonally across the street, the Pushkin (4 Federal St., www.thepushkin.com) is a recording studio with live music on the weekends. This formidable bank had been vacant for years and is now part of the town’s quiet renaissance. A bakery and tea room opens here this month. Ed Wierzbowski, a Colrain resident intent on resuscitating Greenfield through music, art, and performance, owns both venues. The Greenfield Grille (30 Federal St., 413-376-4777, www.thegreenfieldgrille.com), another new addition in town, hosts an open mike every Tuesday and live music from American songbook to funk a few times a month.
Kathleen Pierce can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.