Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls - photo by Peter MacDonaldBridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls (photo by Peter MacDonald)

Heath comprises a total area of 24.9 square miles with a population of approximately 706. It is a “Right To Farm Community” with rolling hills, stone walls, forests and streams, bordered by Whitingham and Halifax, Vermont, to the north, Colrain to the east, Charlemont to the south and southwest, and Rowe to the west. The Heath Agricultural Society Fair, held each year in August, features a chicken barbeque, animal events, live music and lots of fun for young and old alike.”

 

Attractions

  • Heath Agricultural Society Fair, is held two weekends before Labor Day at the Heath Fairgrounds on Colrain Stage Road. It offers a variety of events and exhibits, including music, arts and crafts, horse and oxen draws, needlework, baked goods, flowers, fireworks and barbecue. (413) 337-5525

  • Heath Historical Society, is located in two buildings in the center of town: the old townhouse and the old schoolhouse. The exhibits represent a broad range of Heath's past. Open by appointment. Call Margaret Howland for further information, (413) 337-4980.

  • Burnt Hill is a scenic vista that hosts two wild blueberry farms where you can pick your own blueberries in the summer.

History

Incorporated on February 14, 1785, just a few days after neighboring Rowe, Heath was orignially part of Charlemont, its neighbor to the south. The town's first 10 years were spent in settlement. Farms sprang up, and the water power in the now-extinct neighborhood of Dell ran several mills.

One unlikely major industry from the 1830's to the Civil War was the braiding of palm-leaf hats. In the winter months, women and children made hats for extra income. The palm leaves were brought up from the Carolinas by a middle man and the women would bleach the leaves, split them into two and braid them. A skilled braider could make six Huck Finn-style straw hats in a day, at a price of 6 to 12 cents a hat. John Warner Barber, in his "Historical Collections" published in 1939, wrote that about 30,000 hats had been made in Heath in 1837, at a total value of $5,000. Some of these hats are on display in the Heath Historical Society Museum.

Heath's population reached its peak around 1830, when 1,199 people lived there. Ten years later, 895 people remained. According to Edward Calver, author of the town's history, the exodus from Heath was due to the difficulty of farm life there. The rocky, hilly land could not compete with the valley land for productivity and access to markets nor could it compete with nearby factory towns such as North Adams.

The town has for many years been a bucolic refuge for city dwellers. It is named after Major General William Heath, who served in the Continental Army and as a senator.

Website

For more information, visit the Heath Town Website.

Demographics

Area  24.91 sq. mi.
2015 Population   720
2015 Registered voters   512
FY15 Tax Rate  $19.96
2014 Average single family tax bill  $3,353

 

Contacts

Town Hall
1 East Main Street, Heath  01346
(413) 337-4934
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Hilma Sumner 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Kara Leistyna 
Selectboard Sheila M. Litchfield (chair), Brian DeVriese, Bill Latrell 
Assessors Heidi Griswold, Robyn Provost-Carlson, Alice Wozniak
Board of Health (chair) Karen Brooks, Armand Clavette, Charlie Cornish, Mike Freeman, Betsy Kovacs
Treasurer Kristi Nartowicz
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Elizabeth Nichols (413) 337-4934 x.2
Police Chief Margo Newton (413) 337-4934 x.108
Fire Chief Kenneth Gilbert (413) 337-4461
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Michael Shattuck (413) 337-4462
Mohawk Trail Regional School Superintendent Michael Buoniconti (413) 625-0192 
Franklin County Tech School Superintendent Richard Martin (413) 863-4239
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Donald Purington (librarian)
Building Inspector/Franklin County Cooperative
Inspection Program
Chris Brothers, clerk (413) 774-3167 x.109
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