Rowe Historical Society
Kemp-McCarthy Museum

A Musical Performance by the Northampton Flutes and
"A Literary Conversation with Washington Irving"  presented by John Anderson

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Welcome to the website of the Rowe Historical Society.


The Rowe Historical Society owns and operates the Kemp-McCarthy Museum located at 282 Zoar Road in Rowe, Massachusetts. It opened on June 30, 1963.


The museum has an extensive collection of local artifacts and antiques. Highlights of the collection include antique quilts, 19th century dolls, period costumes, china and glassware, sleighs, furniture, photographs, cookware, tools, farm implements, and an original 19th century hearse. Exhibits are updated regularly.


The Kemp-McCarthy Museum also has many valuable photos of townspeople and local sites, as well as literature from the Davis Mine, the Hoosac Railroad, and the Yankee Atomic Electric Company.


The Rowe Historical Society publishes The Bulletin, dedicated to the preservation of local history by highlighting "bits of history, old letters, pictures, news clippings and anything of interest to the history of Rowe," and The Rowe Historical Society Newsletter, featuring information on upcoming events and programs.


Many books are published by the Rowe Historical Society, including The History of Rowe, Massachusetts by Percy Whiting Brown and Nancy Newton Williams.


The Kemp-McCarthy Museum is open to the public every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. from July through mid-October, and at other times by appointment. Concerts, holiday celebrations, literary programs, and other cultural activities are held at the museum throughout the year.


Our website also provides useful information on membership in the Rowe Historical Society and directions to the Kemp-McCarthy Museum.

If you've never been to our town or museum, you can learn more about us by visiting  


We look forward to welcoming you to the Kemp-McCarthy Museum when it re-opens on Sunday, July 6th, 2014.


Northampton Flutes to Perform on Sunday, June 15th
 at 2:00 p.m. in the Carriage House
Three very talented professional flutists will open our season at the Rowe Historical Society with a delightful performance of lively and engaging music on Sunday, June 15 at 2:00 p.m. Their eclectic repertoire includes many genres: Broadway, baroque, modern and popular music as well as some toe-taping Irish jigs. The group also performs Brazilian, Japanese and Hebrew music.

Sue Kurian is a founding member of the group. She holds Bachelor and Masters degrees from the Julliard School. She studied flute with many famous musicians, including Jean-Pierre Rampal. She has appeared with the Commonwealth Opera and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and has performed at New York's Carnegie Hall. She maintains private studios in Northampton and Amherst, and teaches at the Northampton Community Music Center and the Smith College Campus School.

George Owens is also a founding member of the Northampton Flutes. As the anchor and bass man, he brings a deep dimension to the group with his array of unusual flutes: alto flute, bass flute, and contrabass flute. George has devoted his life to music. He began playing clarinet and saxophone at the age of 7, and has played professionally at clubs and private events. He also performs with local jazz groups. 

Nancy Janoson, a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, is the newest member of the group. She is an accomplished musician who has performed in the United States and in Europe and Japan. Her jazz trios and quartets have been featured at Caribbean music festivals, and she has performed with classical orchestras, chamber music groups, and Latin and jazz big bands. She also studied with Jean-Pierre Rampal.

These talented and enthusiastic musicians interact with the audience and take the time to explain the characteristics of the individual instruments and the importance of each composer and composition.

They present a concert that is lively, informative, interesting and simply delightful!

Our Carriage House has comfortable seating, delicious refreshments, a fine assortment of beverages, and a very welcoming staff.

Please join us for what promises to be one of our best events, ever!
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council,, and the Rowe Cultural Council. The Rowe Historical Society is grateful for this generous support.

Coming in October:
A Literary Conversation with Washington Irving
Presented by John Anderson
Details coming soon!

John Marin in Rowe

The renowned artist John Marin first came to Rowe in 1918.

He and his wife and small son rented a cabin located near the junction of Dell and Cyrus Stage Roads. The cabin was torn down in 1976.

During his time here he created many notable watercolors. Region Rowe Massachusetts, 1918, recently sold at auction for $62,500.

One critic noted that while he lived in Rowe, Marin created a style of abstraction which probably led to his future success as an artist.

At first, Marin was quite unhappy residing in this corner of Franklin County. He laments the loneliness he felt in this remote rural area, and describes the town as "a place I call God forsaken."

Eventually, his view of the town softened and he expressed his regret at having to leave Rowe and return to New Jersey.

John Marin received many accolades during his life, and is now regarded as the preeminent watercolorist of his era.

Recently, the U.S. Postal Service issued a series of stamps commemorating important American artists and their works. John Marin is one of the 12 artists in this series, Modern Art in America 1913-1931.

Living in Rowe has profoundly changed many people; the gifted and complicated artist John Marin certainly was no exception.

The Rowe Historical Society's collection of information related to the life of John Marin will be on display when the Kemp-McCarthy Museum opens in July.

Grants Awarded

The Rowe Historical Society has been awarded three grants and one large donation for 2014:

Massachusetts and Rowe Cultural Councils: $700 and $405

Amherst Railway Society: $1232

Anonymous Donation $1000

Thank you for your generous support!


A Valuable Collection Given to the Museum

Hoosac Tunnel expert Jerry Kelley and his wife, Gayle, have given the Kemp-McCarthy Museum an exceptionally fine collection of rare postcards and stereo views of the Hoosac Tunnel.

Thank you, Jerry and Gayle, for your ongoing generosity.

Shown below: Image of a Hoosac Tunnel Switcher( from the collection)


Highlights of the 50th Season at the Kemp-McCarthy Museum

The Rowe Historical Society had an exhibit at the huge Amherst Railway Society, Inc. exposition in Springfield, MA in January, and received a $1200 grant for a new display case for the Kemp-McCarthy Museum.

The entire Kemp-McCarthy Museum was cleaned, re-organized and painted. This huge project took many months and countless hours of hard work by the trustees and volunteers.

Deputy Tom Culver (left), and his crew from the Franklin County Sherriff's Office, worked with Trustee Bob Dykeman to paint the interior of the museum.
The results are beautiful, with freshly painted walls and ceilings, re-organized and uncluttered exhibits, and new labels for the displays.
Thanks to the talent and dedication of Kathy May, even our "teacher" had a dress that was freshly laundered, starched and ironed!
Thanks to an anonymous donation of $1000, the Carriage House has all new chairs
Thanks to donations of time, sewing skills and money, we have new, light-blocking drapes in the Music Room.
Volunteer Kathy May spent many hours cleaning and repairing our large and valuable collection of clothing, then packed everything away in special wrapping paper and storage boxes.
Trustee Lenny Laffond discovered many important documents in the basement of the museum; he is shown here with volunteer Nan Williams, who worked closely with the trustees to catalog and organize these and many other items in the collection.
A special sign commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Kemp-McCarthy Museum.
Rowe school students visited the old one room school building that is now part of the Kemp-McCarthy Museum
The Kemp-McCarthy Museum and its programs, like Rail-Fan II, were actively promoted at YMCA and other community events.
Trustees Bob Dykeman, research lLibrary designer, and Trustee John Magnago worked together on this important project.
Trustee Lenny Laffond welcomed Franklin County Sheriff Christopher Donelan to the newly completed research library.
Trustee Helene Glass welcomed Massachusetts Senator Benjamin Downing to the Kemp-McCarthy Museum. Helene's exhibit, "Times Remembered," is shown in the background.
Volunteer Betty Vernes worked on her display of antique hats.
Thanks to Nan and Tom, ALL our antique clocks work beautifully!
The talented musicians of Last Night's Fun provided music at the Kemp-McCarthy Museum's 50th anniversary celebration.
Trustee Helene Glass (left) discusses her "Times Remembered" exhibit with antique clothing expert Lynda Meyer from Adams, MA.
Volunteer Myra Carlos (second from left) explains her house identification project. This picture was taken in the new research library on June 30th, the 50th anniversary of the Kemp-McCarthy Museum.
Barbara Davidson (left) with Cindy Laffond during the 50th anniversary celebration. Massachusetts Representative Paul Mark is shown at the far left.
The delicious anniversary cake!

Pianist Dennis Ainsworth prepared for one of two concerts on the antique square grand piano in the music room. Volunteer Barbara Davidson coordinated these sold-out events.

Rail-Fan II: Tim Lawrence, Jerry Kelley, Carl Byron and Chuck Cahoon. Please visit
Dr. Robert Ousterhout of the University of Pennsylvania came to the Kemp-McCarthy Museum to share his immense knowledge of John Henry Haynes, the Rowe native widely known as the father of archaeological photography. To learn more, please visit
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the truly memorable 50th anniversary season at the Kemp-McCarthy Museum!





Thank you to the hundreds of people who made Rail-Fan a huge success! Read all about it here: