I have always wanted to visit MASS MoCA since I’ve been out here but never had the chance. For those of you who are wondering, I’m talking about the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, which currently is the largest Contemporary Art museum in the United States. It is about a quarter the size of the Art Institute (of Chicago). Now, being that it is Massachusetts you’d think a place this large must be in a larger community like Boston…but it’s not. It is about as far from Boston you can get without leaving Massachusetts. That is it is in the far northwest corner of the state in a small community called North Adams.

MASS MoCA is different. It is in an old manufacturing program. Originally built for Arnold Print Works, between 1870 and 1900. The complex is quite large and is situated between two forks of the Hoosic River. The Arnold brothers company dates earlier, to about 1860, and printed cloth for the Union Army.  They lasted until the start of World War II when the price of cloth fell significantly as a result of the great depression.

Spraugue Electric Company moved in and made capacitors. They peaked in the 1960’s with 4,137 employees in a town of just 18,000 folks. Big things that they worked on were the triggers for both the Atomic Bomb and the Gemini launch systems. The company began a decline amid internationalization and struggled to compete (like so many companies along the Hoosic river). In 1985 Spraugue moved out and left a superfund site.

MASS MoCA is more than just an art museum. They also are a cultural center. When I pulled in the parking lot it was rapidly filling up. I thought, oh crap, it will be packed. But, literally, this place is so huge that you felt like you had the museum to yourself.

It is truly one of my favorite museums ever and a place I will return to again, very soon. And here, from the museum itself, you can explore the World of MASS MoCA.

Beyond the Museums

As you already have read, I traveled out to Springfield this past weekend. While I love Doctor Seuss (he is from Springfield and was a Lutheran and it was his birthday), I just couldn’t pass the opportunity to visit a brewery I discovered in December.  So after leaving the museums, I embarked on a journey to find the famed and delicious Iron Duke Brewery.  Turns out Ludlow is just across the bridge from Indian Orchard and I am so dumb that I didn’t realize I was just a half mile from the brewery when I last was in Indian Orchard…oh well.

I did not take photos – why, well, I am not really sure.  It was cold, very cold.  And for someone who runs the heat at 65 degrees all day, that means something.  Iron Duke is currently in a dispute with their landlord, a division of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development group.  Apparently, the brewery is “very loud” and a distraction to the former Ludlow Mills complex which is being redeveloped soon into a diverse community.  Well, a community that would love and appreciate and patronize this wonderful establishement (plus it’ll be a ways from the said housing they are developing).  However, the landlords feel that this complex is TOO successful and wants to evict them rather than allow them to expand.  Ludlow is up in arms since they really rallied to bring this in to revitalize this old industrial complex, the owners have invested a TON of dough in building a successful business that has been exactly what they promised, and confused beer fans like me who are thinking what is wrong with you Massachusetts.

You may recall my previous post about Indian Orchard and the Brickhouse (which I went to just after the brewery) and the place is just about the same in terms of customers.  The folks at the bar (who were clearly regulars since they had their own beer mugs) immediately made me feel welcome as did Mike (who I think might be the head brewer) and his Mom.  Wow!  It definitely is a family affair.

I stole this picture of Mike from the since I thought it’d be creepy to take a picture of a random stranger.


And for the record, I did NOT pay with my NJ Devils credit card.

You can visit Iron Duke Brewing at

After this I stopped at The Holyoke Mall at Ingleside to “sober up” and got an awfully green St. Patty’s day hat before traveling to my intended destination of Abandoned Building Brewing.  However, they had a HUGE line as a tour bus had just stopped so I slid down the building to the New City Brewery.  They were very nice but their beer just didn’t do it for me.

As I swung back through Massachusetts to my destination of home, I took a quick stop in Deerfield at the Yankee Candle flagship store and drove through some awesome mountains and North Adams where MassMOCA is.  That is on my list, it seems to be a cool place.


An Unexpected Trip

Well, it was a beautiful day so I decided that I’d head on out to Springfield.  There was slow moving traffic so I didn’t stop in Lee as intended and, well, before I realized it, I was in Springfield.  No, I didn’t see Homer, Marge, Bart, or Maggie (it was Massachusetts they were determined to be in, right?)

Springfield is interesting.  I was going to stop at the Basketball Hall of Fame, but it was a bit late in the day and, well, I’m not a Basketball afficionado.  But it is a cool, cool building (built like – you guessed it – a basketball).

I went to a few different restaurants before stumbling across a place called The Brickhouse, in Indian Orchard.  After going to three restaurants that, well, looked a bit sketchy, I looked for the highest rated restaurant and drove over there…

What I liked about it –


* From Brickhouse Tavern’s Facebook Page

  • A local sports bar
  • Friendly staff
  • The Chef and Bartender knew all of their regulars but especially made an effort to come out and welcome me.
  • Food was great
  • Beer was great.

What I didn’t like about it –

  • It’s too far away
  • I am not a regular.

But that’s ok.  I’m going back.  Plus, I found a new beer I liked that’s brewed out in Ludlow…if I only knew where that was, but it is supposedly near Springfield.