MCC Cultural District Program
A cultural district is a specific geographical area in a city or town that has a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets. It is a walkable, compact area that is easily identifiable to visitors and residents and serves as a center of cultural, artistic and economic activity. The Mass Cultural Council’s Cultural Districts Initiative was authorized by an act of the Massachusetts state legislature in 2010, and launched in April 2011. The goals of the Cultural Districts are to attract artists and cultural enterprises, foster cultural development, encourage business and job development, establish the district as a tourist destination, preserve and reuse historic buildings, and enhance property values.
Turners Falls Cultural District
The Turners Falls Cultural District received designation in May, 2017.
The District is energized by the same assets as in the Industrial Era- the natural beauty of the river, well preserved architecture, and the people who live and work in its downtown. The Gill-Montague Bridge is the gateway to the district and reveals stunning views of the village situated in a rustic landscape. Visitors are greeted by the gardens and rolling lawn of The Great Falls Discovery Center. Housed within a complex of historic mill buildings, the Discovery Center exhibits the natural, cultural, and industrial history of the Connecticut River watershed. The Center’s Great Hall, a former machine shop, regularly hosts art exhibits, educational programs and live music.
The Cultural District extends from the Discovery Center along the tree-lined street of Avenue A to the Carnegie Library, a grand Georgian building built in 1906 by Andrew Carnegie. The Avenue A and Third Street business district features green parks, casual and fine dining, craft beer tasting, outdoor sculpture, art exhibitions, galleries, and antique shopping along wide a wide, tree lined street. The 330 seat Shea Theater Arts Center is the hub of entertainment in the Turners Falls Cultural District. Built in 1927 and completely renovated in 2016, The Shea presents performances by regional, national and international artists as well as community theater, dance and music.
The Turners Falls Cultural District also boasts uncommon outdoor recreational attractions alongside gorgeous views of the Connecticut River. Have an afternoon picnic while watching waterfowl and birds of prey, including hawks and eagles, from the vantage point of our canal-side rail trail. This three mile trail hugs the shoreline along Barton Cove and is the perfect place to bike ride, jog, or take in views of the historic mills. Immediately adjacent to the rail trail—and sharing in those amazing views of Barton Cove—is Unity Park, a spectacular venue that is the crown jewel of the Turners Falls waterfront. The amenities of Unity Park are designed to encourage physical fitness, relaxation and a connection with nature. With well-appointed ball fields, basketball courts, a fitness circuit, a “rain garden” and exciting play structures, there are many ways for people of all ages to recreate. And for the more adventurous, Unity Park features a state-of-the-art skate park, considered the best in the region. Its comprehensive design links a variety of transitions, stairs, banks, and rails making it fun and challenging for riders of all ages, disciplines and skill levels.