Great Barrington: Walking Tour

Great Barrington, MA:
Hometown of W.E.B. Du Bois

My town was shut in by its mountains and provincialism; but it was a beautiful place, a little New England town nestled shyly in its valley.  Du Bois, Dusk of Dawn, p.9.

Visitors can become more familiar with Du Bois through the W.E.B Du Bois in Great Barrington Walking and Motor Tour. The walking tour brochure can be found at the Chamber of Commerce booth in Great Barrington or viewed below and downloaded.W.E.B. Du Bois in Great Barrington - brochure cover

Self-guided walking and motor tours of 17 sites in Great Barrington reveal the town’s people and places as Du Bois recalled them.

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W.E.B. Du Bois Downtown Great Barrington Walking Tour A piece of our vision is to place Du Bois prominently in the downtown Great Barrington landscape through signage at places significant to Du Bois as a youth and in later life. While many of the building sites no longer exist, there is sufficient historical information to tell a unique story at each site. Currently, W.E.B. Du Bois in Great Barrington is a self-guided walking and motor tour, and we plan to enhance it with signage marking each location as well as adding an audio guide. Great Barrington Walking Tour Brochure:

Great Barrington Walking Tour Videos: Searles School in Great Barrington:

Du Bois River Garden Park:

Du Bois Homesite:

First Congregational Church of Great Barrington:

Clinton AME Zion Church – 9 Elm Court, Great Barrington:

Du Bois Birthsite – Church St. Great Barrington:

Great Barrington Town Hall:


Future: W.E.B. Du Bois Center for Democracy and Social Justice With an active program of exhibits, public programs, and cultural exchanges, the W.E.B. Du Bois Center for Democracy and Social Justice will be a year-round facility. The Center will be a public forum for ongoing scholarship around the principles of equality and social justice that defined Du Bois’s life and work, and it will have strong ties with the W.E.B. Du Bois Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Center for Pan African Culture in Accra, Ghana. Reflecting Du Bois’s global perspective and local experience, the Center is envisioned as a place for youth and for youth leadership activities focusing on global citizenship. To be a dynamic living place dedicated to community and education, the Center for Democracy and Social Justice will promote the principles Du Bois believed would lead to a more just society. It will also serve the vital function of integrating and providing information about the other venues—the Homesite and Walking Tour—which together make up the W.E.B. Du Bois National Historic Site. The best location for the W.E.B. Du Bois Center for Democracy and Social Justice is in downtown Great Barrington. The facility will be approximately 7,500 square feet, and the interior space will include:

  • Lobby and visitor orientation
  • Long-term exhibition and changing exhibit space
  • Gathering space/classrooms with flexible interiors
  • Computer stations with direct access to digital archives
  • Studio/office for artist/scholar in residence
  • Gift shop
  • Administrative office

There is a ten-year plan for fully realizing this vision. It will unfold in phases. Currently, visitors can visit the Homesite and take the Walking Tour.

W.E.B Du Bois in Great Barrington Walking and Motor Tour covers a portion of the African American Heritage Trail of the Upper Housatonic Valley. The African American Heritage Trail tells of such notables in the region as Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, James VanDerZee, and Reverend Samuel Harrison (www.AfricanAmericanTrail.org).

Google Link – Map of Downtown Great Barrington

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