Sons and Daughters of Hawley Inc

A nonprofit organization

$1,875 raised by 14 donors

Education, Celebration, Preservation: those words sum up the goals of the Sons & Daughters of Hawley (SDH), the historical society for the small hill town of Hawley, MA (pop. 337). A group of current and former Hawley residents founded the organization in 1901 to preserve the history of the town and nurture close ties among all those who live in the town or have migrated somewhere else. Today, a small, energetic band of volunteers plans and carries out all the organization’s activities. Their dedication makes it possible to accomplish significant goals without a paid staff: the creation of an interpretive historic site at Hawley’s old town common, the creation of an archaeological dig and education program for high school students at the ruins of the Sanford Tavern, and the preservation and restoration of the East Hawley Meetinghouse (1848).  

Hawley’s Old Town Common Historic Site was created by SDH volunteers with the help of grants from MassHumanities and the Highland Communities Initiative. Situated next to the Hawley Bog on East Hawley Road, it consists of a kiosk (with map and other information), trails leading to the cellar holes of the buildings that once stood near the town common, and nine interpretive signs. The signs tell not only Hawley’s story, but the story of many of the hill towns in the area. It is very much worth a visit—and you can visit the bog at the same time!

In 2011, with the support of funding from MassHumanities, the Mary Lyon Foundation, and Kickstarter, SDH launched an archaeology education program in collaboration with Mohawk Trail Regional High School at the site of the Sanford Tavern, which once served the thriving village center at the town common. The program was so successful both in engaging students and yielding artifacts that SDH and MTRHS repeated it in 2012 and 2014. 

SDH owns two buildings: the Grove building (which serves as SDH’s club house and has a fully equipped kitchen, rest rooms, dining hall, and several rooms that house SDH’s archives), and the East Hawley Meetinghouse. The Grove building and meetinghouse may be rented for events at a modest fee. The meetinghouse is a classic white Congregational Church built in 1848. The interior, which possesses wonderful acoustics, is the site of Shape Note Sings led by Hawley resident Alice Parker, a nationally acclaimed composer and choral conductor. SDH also holds its annual meeting there. When restored it will make a lovely site for weddings. With the support of grants from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and the Highland Communities Initiative, SDH recently repaired the steeple, added a gracefully designed handicapped accessible rear entrance, and had the exterior of the church painted. The plaster on the inside, however, is cracked and, in a few places, fallen off and the sanctuary has not been painted for nearly 100 years. A specialist in historic plaster repair evaluated the building and reported that the plaster is still fundamentally sound but needs stabilization before the cracks can be sealed and the walls painted. In the short term, SDH plans to repair fallen plaster and to recaulk the meetinghouse windows. SDH’s most wished for goal is to fully restore the interior of the building, the cost of which will be upwards of $100,000. That is a lot of money for a small organization, but SDH is beginning a drive to raise it. Your donation will help get us started.

SDH hosts a series of events, some each year, some every two years. These include a Mud Party (in March, lots of chocolate!), a Shape Note Sing (hymns, classic American songs), a Tag Sale, Garden Tour, Hawley Day, a Harvest Dinner (all locally sourced food), the Pudding Contest (the “Puddinghead” is crowned for cooking the tastiest pudding!) or Gentlemen's Pie Contest, and an Apple Fest. Two years ago, SDH organized a very successful stones of Hawley tour (“The Bedrock of Our Foundation”) during which a Williams College geology professor provided insight into Hawley’s ancient rocks (some of them 400-500 million years old!). These events raise the money needed to keep the organization going and make minor repairs on its buildings (capital projects require applying for grants and other fundraising activities). More important, these events provide occasions for neighbors and friends from near and far to gather together, eat, have fun! Hawley has no store, café, or other spot to hang out, so these events are very important to the vitality of our community. Visit SDH's website for a calendar of this year's events and join in the fun! 


Organization Data


Organization name

Sons and Daughters of Hawley Inc

Tax id (EIN)



PO BOX 206
HAWLEY, MA 01339