CORONAVIRUS update from The Trustees. Learn More

Ashley House History

In 1735, at the age of 25, Colonel John Ashley built this house – the oldest house still standing in Berkshire County – for his Dutch bride, Hannah Hogeboom.

The Ashley House was the center of social, economic, and political life in Western Massachusetts in the 18th century. The famous Sheffield Resolves, a petition against British tyranny and a manifesto for individual rights, was drafted in the upstairs study of the house and published in 1773.

The cause for abolishing slavery in America was strengthened in the celebrated 1781 Massachusetts state court battle that freed the Ashleys’ slave, Elizabeth Freeman (formerly known as Mum Bett). Inspired by Revolutionary-era rhetoric and her own desire for freedom, Elizabeth Freeman, 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. Learn more about Elizabeth Freeman’s fight for freedom >>

In 1930, the Ashley House was moved from its original location next to the Housatonic River to its present site on Cooper Hill Road.

 

Col. Ashley House, Inc. Archive
(1.5 linear feet)
Records of the organization that managed the Colonel John Ashley House from 1959 until it was purchased by The Trustees of Reservations in 1972.

Col. John Ashley Papers
(1.5 linear feet)
Three account books regarding Sheffield, MA area, 1755-1818.

Ashley House Collection
(0.25 linear feet)
Materials regarding Colonel John Ashley House, 1738-1958.
Unprocessed collection.

The Archives & Research Center welcomes donations of documents, manuscripts, records, photographs, maps and memorabilia that pertain to a particular property. Please contact us at 781.784.8200 or arc@thetrustees.org

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Ashley House

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