Petersham, Massachusetts is one of those small, “blink and you’ll miss it” towns here in New England you may not even realize you’re driving past or through on your way to/from another place. With a relatively small population and comprised of mostly forests and reservations- it’s an easy place to miss on a map.
And because it’s so quiet, peaceful and unbothered- it’s an ideal location for people who are looking to get away and relax for a little while. At least that’s what people thought in 1899 when James W. Brooks built The Nichewaug Inn right in the heart of the town’s Common. It remained a popular retreat for tourists for nearly fifty years before the property and the grounds were turned into an all girls high school in the 1950s.
By the 1980s, when the school closed it’s doors for the last time and the property went up for sale- it changed hands multiple times. However, none of the owners who continually passed it along over the years seemed to know what to do with it- and the structure has been empty ever since. However, it has found it’s way onto the National Register of Historic Places- along with the rest of Petersham’s Common and Historic District.
The inside of the property is off limits to the public- given how long it’s sat unused- but the grounds themselves can be explored with caution since the sidewalks that run through the Common also wrap around the boarded up structures.
In need of some fresh air in this age of social distancing- I stopped by to take a walk around the inn-turned-school and snap some photos of the building- which is stunning. It’s a shame no one has stepped up to take care of the property and turn it into something the public could enjoy again- because it really does have so much potential.
When the coronavirus prevention protocols are over and things can return to some semblance of normalcy- I’d like to go back and take some more pictures- and stop by the General Store directly across the street. It’s a ridiculously cute and rustic neighborhood to explore when the time is right.