Hawley’s Old Town Common

The old town common served as Hawley’s town center from the 1790s until 1848. The first meetinghouse, which functioned both as a church and a town hall, stood upon it. The Sanford Tavern and the Longley Tavern were located on its borders. A third tavern existed for a brief time nearby. For an account of this village center’s history and why it disappeared, visit:

“Rediscovering Hawley’s Old Town Common”


Between 2008 to 2010, the Sons and Daughters of Hawley created a historic site on what had been Hawley’s town common. SDH designed the site to educate visitors not only about a significant phase of Hawley’s history but to highlight the origins and functions of New England town commons. Hawley’s Old Town Common consists of a kiosk and nine interpretive signs located along trails that link the foundations of the buildings that once stood on or near the common. It is located next to the Hawley Bog at 236 East Hawley Rd., near the junction of Forget Rd. and East Hawley Rd.

Take an Interpretive Tour of the Historic Site

Read John Sears’s reflections on the origins of the project in his essay:

“Local History Often Tells a Larger Story: ‘Rediscovering Hawley’s Old Town Common’”

In 2011, 2012, and 2014 SDH conducted archeological digs at the site of one of the taverns that once stood next to the common:

Archeological Dig at the site of the Sanford Tavern

Generous grants from MassHumanities and the Highland Communities Initiative made the creation of Hawley’s Old Town Common historic site possible. The project won an Award of Merit for Leadership in History from the American Association for State and Local History. MassHumanities and a Kickstarter campaign funded the archeological digs.