The South Williamstown Community Association has existed in various forms for over 100 years as an organization to promote community and to represent the interests of the residents of South Williamstown.
Our current focus is historical preservation and documentation, building community and providing a neighborhood voice. We sponsor a number of events every year, including a summer barbeque, potluck dinners, lectures and brunch get-togethers, as well as tree lighting and caroling at Five Corners. We’re launching a quarterly newsletter. We want to be enablers for neighbors helping neighbors. We’re open to suggestions for new activities.
Right now, we number approximately 100 households among our members. You don’t need to live in the neighborhood to be a member; you just need to be interested in South Williamstown. The boundaries of South Williamstown essentially are Hopper Road and Rt. 2 at Cold Spring to the north, Torrey Woods to the northwest, the Hancock town line to the south and the New Ashford town line to the southeast.
Following a period of minimal activity, a group revitalized the Association in 1982 as residents of South Williamstown rallied around the issue of the South Center School, “The Little Red School House,” which was a public school from 1868 until 1962 and subsequently was home to The Williamstown Cooperative Nursery School. Since the 1962 closure of the public school, the Town had maintained the building with a low level of funding designated for basic repairs. During this period, Norman Burdick, who had taught at the South Center School and was a long-time president of SWCA, acted informally as the custodial overseer for the building. However, as the Town ran into tighter budget constraints, little to no money was designated for Little Red. In Fall 1981 the heating system failed and the Town had no money to allocate for its repair, thus putting the cooperative nursery school then housed there in jeopardy. Two “white knights” came to the rescue (John Umlauf and Sherwood Guernsey), who volunteered to spearhead the campaign to create an endowment to cover the costs of annual repairs for the historic building. The community was interested in the historical significance of the building and its potential use for community meetings as well as maintaining a facility where education could continue at the pre-school level.
This led to the revitalization of the South Williamstown Community Association in 1982, when it was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. From that time until June 30, 2015, the Association maintained the Little Red School House and raised both public and private funds to bring the building up to acceptable occupancy and safety codes as well as meeting handicapped accessibility standards. Approximately $250,000 was raised by SWCA for this purpose. The Williamstown Cooperative Nursery School was the primary tenant until it ceased to exist in the fall of 2012, when there was not a viable level of enrollment. The building continued to be used by the Girl Scouts, Alcoholics Anonymous and other community organizations. The Association collaborated with IS 183 Arts School of the Berkshires, based in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, to offer various classes, workshops and summer camps for adults and children during the following two years, but the programs did not produce enough revenue to pay for maintaining the building.
The South Williamstown Community Association ended its lease of the Little Red School House from the Town as of June 30, 2015. It is expected that the Williamstown Historical Museum will move into the building in the coming year. We’re looking forward to collaborating on projects documenting the history of South Williamstown.
New members are always welcome! Download a membership form here.