BCD was still housed on Walker Street, in an old and historic dwelling, when in the spring of 1961, my sixth grade year, I had one of the most fulfilling learning experiences of my life. Our history class, led by Mrs. Dengler, suspended its fairly cursory progression past pyramids and forums of the ancient world to spend the spring semester on local history. That year Berkshire County was celebrating its bicentennial, and The Berkshire Eagle was filled with stories and photos related to the past. Our school assignments included assembling great clipping files on Herman Melville, Balance Rock, paper mills, lime kilns, iron mines, local fires, and local landmarks. It opened a new world to me! Here was history that explained the buildings, the street names, the natural landmarks around me.Now, I realize this class was the groundwork for everything I have done since then. Later, I majored in history at Vassar with 18 months “reading” history at New Hall, Cambridge University. I then worked for the New York State Historic Preservation Office in Albany and returned to England for graduate work at the Institute for Advanced Architectural Studies in York.For the last 15 years I have been writing and speaking about the wonderful historic buildings of Albany and the Berkshires culminating in several recent books: Houses of the Berkshires with Richard S. Jackson (2006) and Hawthorne’s Lenox with Julia Conklin Peters (2008). With a team that dates back to my days in the New York State Preservation Office, I am the principal contributor to a new book, Architects in Albany (Mt. Ida Press: 2009).
Thirty-some years after my own student days, BCD re-entered my life in the education of two of our children, Richard and Nannina. We still talk of the memorable teachers of their era—the Fawcetts, Geoff Ashworth, Gary Miller, Tim Gore, Steffi Fletcher, and Adrienne Cosel—who set high standards and opened academic and athletic doors for both of them. How fortunate we are in the Berkshires to have this remarkable school!