Started as a Stagecoach Stop
Since the earliest days of the county Lenox’s Main St. has been a path-road-highway from the southern entrance to the county to Pittsfield. The site of the Curtis Hotel was a stagecoach stop before Lenox even existed as a town.
Lenox Main Street Settled Into Current Location About 1800
Until about 1800 Lenox Main St. wandered to the East and to the West, finally settling on approximately its current course. The entrance to town was Old Stockbridge Road with Walker St. and Kemble St. added later.
We have some photos of the way Main St. would have looked with first buggies – then flivers tootling down the street.
Prior to 1922 the Berkshire County north- south route was marked by blue bands on telephone poles. Beginning in the 1920’s, hotel operators and automobile clubs initiated the development of a numbering system in which this route was known as Highway 4. The Federal Government had taken over route numbering and in 1926 Highway 4 was renamed U.S. Route 7.
Until the 1949 Bypass, Hills Remained a Problem
The same topography that makes Lenox so scenic created a challenge for travelers in the form of the hill up Old Stockbridge Road (known from the 19th century shire town days as Court House Hill) and the Hill up to the Congregational Church — both of which were burdens for wagons and later trucks. This may have been one of the main reasons historic Lenox village was able to retain its old Main Street when the bypass was (per MassDOT) began in 1949.
Mid Twentieth Century Fun for Residents and Visitors Along the New Bypass
There is a great Facebook Page – You Know You’re From Lenox If.. where contributors have shared some photos from the 1960’s and 1970’s Route 7 including the Miniature Golf Course (site of the current Burger King) and favorite restaurants including the Yellow Aster (site of current Mazzeo’s)
How Much Expansion?
The initial bypass was controversial – some new businesses were created while others were – well – bypassed. However, the flood of tourists to Tanglewood and other summer events continued and more highway expansion was planned – and protested – and planned again. The four lane traffic flow on Route 7 from Lenox to the Pittsfield line was completed in 2000. A further expansion of four lane road was contemplated to Lanesborough. We’ll see.
See Old Route 7, Along the Berkshire Highway by Gary T. Leveille