Pre-dating the Sycamores, The Rawson House has a varied history
South Hadley’s oldest house, the Rawson House, was built in 1733 for the Rev. Grindal Rawson, the town’s first minister and was situated on the property where Sycamores stands.
Because townspeople were tired of trudging eight miles to the center of Hadley each Sunday to attend church, they petitioned the state legislature to permit them to split from Hadley and form their own town. The legislature agreed providing they have a church, hire a minister, and provide him a home.
Timbers for the minister’s home were cut in 1732, and the house was constructed in 1733. A post and beam construction, the house has very wide random width pine floors and hand- hewn girts, summer beams and purlins. Typical of its day, it consisted of two large rooms on the first floor, each facing into a central chimney with large fireplaces. Both fireplaces have large cranes on which to hang pots and one contains a beehive oven for baking. The second floor had two large bedrooms.
The Rev. Mr. Rawson proved too conservative for the new town of South Hadley. The church embraced the Half-Way Covenant, which Rawson opposed. Matters reached a crisis in 1740, and he was asked to resign. He repeatedly refused.
One Sunday in October 1741, 13 men carried their minister from the pulpit and expelled him from the church. He continued to live in South Hadley until 1745, when he was called to a church in Connecticut.
At some point the house was moved to nearby 40 Woodbridge St. and attached to an historical house at that address later owned by Mount Holyoke College and used to house faculty.
The most famous tenant of that period was Joseph Brodsky, the Russian dissident poet who later won the Nobel Prize and became Poet Laureate of the United States. Brodsky lived in Rawson House from 1981 until his death in 1996.
In 2004 Kay Bernon, president of trustees of the Berkshire Hills Music Academy, who had purchased the house from Mount Holyoke College, offered Rawson House to Sycamores. On a rainy October day the house was moved and subsequently attached to the rear of Sycamores’ Red Ell.