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Remember The Buggy Whip Maker

A new historical exhibition in Southfield, MA, focuses on 200 years of local manufacturing at a former buggy whip factory turned antiques market.

Buggy

As the echo of horses' hooves was replaced by the cough and sputter of the gasoline engine nearly a hundred years ago, the need for the once indispensable buggy whip vanished as well. A new museum, however, preserves the history of the manufacture of buggy whips and the history of its factory for the pleasure of visitors to the Berkshires.

The Turner and Cook Whip Manufactory began making leather whip cores in the late 18th century. Today, known as the Buggy Whip Factory, it houses a permanent exhibition to honor and document 200 years of the manufactory's history.

Turner and Cook began as a small tanning operation near the Umpachene River and grew into a large enterprise at its present site. The company specialized first in rawhide whip cores, then, as the demand for buggy whips faded, the company switched to belt pins and rawhide mallets. Later the site became a factory for furniture, then fabrics, then sweaters.

Buggy display

Today's Buggy Whip Factory is a popular antiques market. Owners Hank Reeve and Neuma Agins Reeve have devoted 1,000 sq. ft. of the Buggy Whip for the historical exhibition. Museum-quality sleighs and buggies provide a background for an extensive collection of photographs by renowned photographer Walter Scott, official photographer of Tanglewood. Scott's photographs depict the factory during its operation in the 1970s. A collection of earlier photographs of the building and personalities involved at the factory over the last two centuries as well as a selection of antique and present day whips are also exhibited. The whip exhibit is made available thanks to a collaborative effort with Westfield Whip Manufacturing Company, who along with their predecessors, were working partners with Turner and Cook for 150 years.

Complementing the exhibition are a variety of horse and buggy related artifacts along with tools, whip cores, rawhide mallets and belt pins made at the factory. Visitors also can see the original 19th-century wheeled fire extinguisher used at the Whip Shop along with other period firefighting tools. A newly edited film of the Whip Factory can be viewed.

The new exhibition opened in February of this year. The Buggy Whip Factory is located on Rt. 272 (Norfolk Rd.) in Southfield, MA. For more information, call 229-3576.