In 1985, the Sprague Electric Mill in North Adams, Massachusetts, closed down. Like many similar western Massachusetts towns supporting heavy industry, North Adams relied on its factories to provide the jobs and sense of community that are at the core of a thriving city. While cultural attractions in nearby Williamstown and Great Barrington had kept the youth and creative classes hovering in the area, the town itself was in danger of falling off the map.
The city's proximity to Williams College (who put on a theater festival every summer, among other events) was for many years North Adams’s most immediate saving grace. However, this all changed with the opening of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in 1999.The brainchild of core staff from the Williams College Museum of Art, MASS MoCA is the largest modern art museum in the country, and host to a range of unique large-scale projects bringing about a revitalization of North Adams. The museum, which attracts fresh creative blood every year via interning students, smaller galleries looking for satellite locations, and visiting artists involved in residencies, created a modest wealth of nearby attractions. This burgeoning scene includes restaurants and cafes, affordable studio spaces and artists' lofts, and, most importantly, a second chance for the town.
A small but steady creative class has sprung up in the area, and is buoyed by cheap rents (on a recent trip, a main drag storefront was going for $250 a month), an ever-evolving local arts council, and a newly-energized city college (the MA College of Liberal Arts).
Though not as trendy as neighboring Great Barrington, North Adams has nonetheless become an interesting player in the global design scene, and a world-famous cultural center frequented by thousands of international visitors. Drawing renowned artists like David Byrne and Jenny Holzer, along with increasing numbers of world-wearied arts patrons of New York and Boston, a real demand for culturally savvy and sophisticated accommodations arose. Though local chain motels and collegiate hotels in Williamstown were previously adequate, a growing arts epicenter needed a base location where visiting tastemakers could congregate, relax, and experience the town from a new angle.
Filling this demand came Porches Inn, an “industrial granny chic” boutique hotel. Opened in 2001, it features a mix of eclectic designs with 21st century technological flourishes. Catering to those looking for a mini-vacation with a cosmopolitan touch close to home, Porches provides the perfect getaway for those searching for a respite from the stifling galleries and cramped apartments of a larger northeastern city, without sacrificing taste or personal standards.
Conveniently situated directly across from MASS MoCA, with an unpretentious atmosphere and a laid-back aesthetic, Porches provides those visiting North Adams invaluable luxuries like an on-premise pool, frequent events, a pleasant mix of guests of all ages, and most importantly, a beautiful and comfortable place to spend the night.
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