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Learn about two very different people who fought for freedom and liberty – and changed our history.
What makes the Ashley House a special place?
The Ashley House tells the intertwined stories of the Ashleys and the enslaved African Americans who lived here in the 18th century.
Col. John Ashley built the house in 1735 and spent the next decades accumulating wealth and land. By the time of his death in 1802, Ashley owned more than 3,000 acres – including the land that is now The Trustees’ Bartholomew’s Cobble. Ashley supported the American Revolution, heading a committee that wrote the fiery Sheffield Resolves, a petition against British tyranny and manifesto for individual rights, in 1773. His financial success was based in part on the labor of five enslaved African Americans.
Inspired by Revolutionary-era rhetoric and her own desire for freedom, Elizabeth Freeman, known as Mum Bett, who was enslaved in the Ashley House, helped end slavery in Massachusetts. In 1781, she sued Col. Ashley for her freedom – and won. Freeman was and remains an inspiration to all who learn her story.
Today, the Ashley House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and an anchor site on the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail. It contains fine collections of redware, furniture, and tools. The Ashley House is adjacent to Bartholomew’s Cobble Reservation, which offers five miles of scenic trails.
The Ashley House is part of the Berkshire 18th Century Trail.
At Bartholomew’s Cobble, five miles of moderate hiking; some may find the climb to 1,000-ft. Hurlburt’s Hill strenuous.
When to Visit
Grounds: Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset.
House: For tours, call 413.298.3239
Allow a minimum of 1 hour for the Ashley House, 3 hours if also visiting Bartholomew's Cobble.
The Ashley House gift shop sells postcards and several books on Elizabeth Freeman. Public restrooms are located nearby in the visitors center at The Trustees’ Bartholomew’s Cobble.