Town History

Sandisfield, a name unique among US municipalities, derived from a tribute to Samuel Sandys, first "Lord of Trade and the Plantations." The largest town in the Berkshires at 53 sq. mi., Sandisfield is also the most sparsely populated. Settlers, mainly from Connecticut Colony, arrived at "Housatonic Plantation No. 3" starting in 1750. Abundant land attracted newcomers for the next century and the population peaked around 1850, twice today's level.  In the mid-19th century Sandisfield was one of the most prosperous towns in the area with productive dairy farms and numerous sawmills, tanneries and light manufacturing all along its rivers. But a much anticipated railroad line in the 1870s never materialized. The farming economy suffered and the population declined.

As a result, today Sandisfield's physical character is much different. The land is reforested and contains many streams and sparkling clear ponds and lakes. Sandisfield State Forest and nearby York Lake are hidden treasures for the savvy visitor, summer, or winter. In the north end of town enchanting Spectacle Pond astride the old "Knox Trail," recently incorporated into Otis State Forest, has no equal for kayak and canoe enthusiasts. Although a true center never developed in this sprawling town, quaint villages and hamlets throughout the town remind of another time and way of life.

The settlers of the 18th and early 19th centuries left an important legacy: more than 100 antique homes and public buildings. Most have been lovingly restored by both long-time and seasonal residents, the two segments of the modern community. Three are on the National Register of Historic Places: the 1799 "Philemon Sage House;" the quintessential New England tavern, "The New Boston Inn" which has continuously served guests and diners since at least 1750; and the wonderful Greek Revival style 1842 Baptist Meeting House. In the early 20th century it was converted to a Jewish Synagogue. And then in the 1980's it was again transformed into the vibrant and acclaimed "Sandisfield Arts Center." The pride of the community, the Arts Center is a regional destination offering top-notch musical and cultural performances from April to December.