Project Description

W.E.B Du Bois Homesite

W.E.B. Du Bois Homesite Planning Study
Great Barrington, Massachusetts

In 2004 Michael Singer Studio began working with the Friends of the W.E.B. Du Bois Homesite on identifying the opportunities for using the Homesite and the surrounding area as sites for honoring W.E.B. Du Bois, a pioneering African American scholar and activist born in Great Barrington in 1868. Singer Studio worked closely with stakeholders from the Great Barrington community, the Du Bois Center at the University of Massachusetts, the AME Zion Church, The Great Barrington Land Conservancy, and the Great Barrington Historical Society conducting interviews and research to determine opportunities and constraints at the Homesite and in Great Barrington. In 2006 Michael Singer Studio produced a short report and presentation Commemorating W.E.B. Du Bois, which outlined several options for the Homesite and downtown Great Barrington. Michael Singer presented Commemorating W.E.B. Du Bois at the conference Shaping Role of Place in African American Biography in September 2006. He also presented the report at an open community meeting at the AME Zion Church in Great Barrington as part of a W.E.B. Du Bois birthday celebration in February 2007.

These community based presentations spurred excitement and led to the Du Bois Center at UMass and the Friends of W.E.B. Du Bois receiving state and private grants for Michael Singer Studio to produce the report W.E.B. Du Bois Boyhood Homesite and Great Barrington: A Plan for Heritage Conservation and Interpretation. This extensive report provides an overall outline of the multi-faceted project and is being used as a fundraising tool for the Homesite and a W.E.B. Du Bois Center located in Great Barrington. The report includes the physical planning guidelines for multiple sites, critical interpretive content to be covered at the sites, initiatives and programs common to all of the sites, and a budgetary outline and approach to phasing. Numerous scholars and interpretive design professionals contributed to the dialogue at intensive workshops in 2008 and 2009 and assisted in the final editing of the report which was completed in July 2009.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Artist / Designer: Michael Singer
Singer Studio Team: Jason Bregman, Jonathan Fogelson, Dolores Root, Josiah Simpson, Susan McMahon, Alejandro Borrero, Bryan Quinn
Project Contributors: Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, UMass Amherst, Robert Cox, Acting Director, W.E.B. Du Bois Center, UMass Amherst, Bernard Drew, Local Historian, Friends of the Du Bois Homesite, Great Barrington, Former President, Great Barrington Historical Society, Dr. Rex Ellis, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture, Peter Fish, Former Selectman, Great Barrington, Rachel Fletcher, Co-Director, Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail, Trustee, Great Barrington Land Conservancy, Trustee, Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area, David Glassberg, Professor, History, UMass Amherst, Joseph Guillory, Graduate Student, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass Amherst, Elaine Gunn, Du Bois Memorial Committee, Friends of the Du Bois Homesite, Great Barrington, Wray Gunn, Trustee, Clinton AME Zion Church, Friends of the Du Bois Homesite, Great Barrington, Cora Portnoff, Friends of the Du Bois Homesite, Great Barrington, Veronica Jackson, Founding Partner, Principal and Senior Exhibit Designer for the Jackson Brady Design Group, John James, Principal Architect and Historic Preservationist, John A. James Architects, Evelyn Jeffers, Graduate Student, Anthropology Department UMass Amherst, Lauri Klefos, President and CEO, Berkshire Visitors Bureau, Anthony Martin, Graduate Student, Anthropology Department, UMass Amherst, Robert Paynter, Professor, Anthropology, UMass Amherst, Jay Schafer, Director of Libraries, UMass Amherst, and Chair, Du Bois Legacy Committee, Amilcar Shabazz, Chair, Du Bois Department of African American Studies, UMass Amherst, William Strickland, Professor, Department of African American Studies, UMass Amherst, Catherine Turton, Historian, National Historic Landmarks Program, National Park Service

W.E.B Du Bois Homesite