As part of my “Continue Getting More Healthy/Fit” resolution for 2021- I’ve started walking more each day since New Year’s in order to get my heart pumping and make sure I’m hitting my steps for the day since I’m still working remotely and spend most of my mornings/afternoons sitting down. I usually walk Monday-Saturday- taking Sunday off so I can decompress and enjoy a little break- and go a little further each time. 2 miles one night, 4 miles the next, 5-6 the night after that- and so on.
Is it cold? Absolutely. It is January and I live in New England, after all- but with the right layers and something interesting to listen to (a good podcast, an upbeat playlist)– I’m usually back home in the comfort of my warm apartment within a couple of hours.
The only thing is that I like to walk at night- giving myself some time between finishing work for the afternoon, catching up on my personal e-mails/texts/etc., having a light dinner- before I set off for my stroll. It’s less crowded on the sidewalks, there’s not a lot of traffic- but it definitely adds a spooky element to my neighborhood and town. Roads that I’ve driven on hundreds of times during the day seem a lot more creepy after dark- but the flip side to being momentarily scared of my own shadow for a few minutes at a time is that I’ve also discovered a lot of really interesting places that I didn’t know existed simply by passing them on foot. Restaurants, shops, salons and a few oddities- places I’m eager to visit during daytime hours now that I know where they are.
Another great thing about my semi-late night walks? I get to discover some great architecture and historical locations, too. For example, the Weldon Hotel- just a few quick minutes away from my apartment and downtown Greenfield. I first stumbled on this hotel, now a senior living facility- about a week ago when I had opted to head down High Street for a walk and change up the scenery. As I approached the two streetlamps along the sidewalk that signaled the entranceway to the building- I noticed they still had the hotel’s name written on them- something I’d never realized before in all my times driving by. When I looked towards the building’s front door- I saw the faded remnants of what was once a stunning, grand jewel in the Pioneer Valley.
Built in 1905 and acting as one of the first poured concrete buildings in the United States, the hotel didn’t open until two years later in 1907. When the nearby Mohawk Trail became a popular roadway into the Berkshires- the hotel thrived in the early 1900s- undergoing expansions and additions to accommodate guests. It wasn’t until after most of the Mohawk Trail’s motels/hotels and businesses eventually shuttered that the hotel also closed it’s doors in 1977. Three years later, in 1980- it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The former hotel now has 105 apartments which serve some of the community’s elderly and disabled residents.
I snapped a few photos which, of course- don’t truly show the grandeur of the building since it gets dark at 3 PM right now- but I think you can get the overall vibe and feel of what I was seeing.
Once I was home and properly thawed out from the Winter chill- I got to work researching the building. There’s a lot of photos online of the exterior, which has remained unchanged since the hotel’s closure in the 70s- but very little of the interior apart from some sketches of the dining room and sun parlor that looked elegant and beautiful- and which I’m sure were enjoyed by travelers from all over at the height of the hotel’s popularity.
Now when I walk in that direction every other night- I always catch myself looking at the faded entranceway. It’s a historic place I would have otherwise been completely oblivious to had I not started pushing myself into taking the extra steps at the end of my day and exploring some new streets in my neighborhood.
So if you’re looking for some inspiration to get out there and take a stroll- let that be it. You’ll never know what you’ll find- maybe even right around the corner!