Have you ever visited a place, and immediately recognized that it was special? Your heart may have quickened a bit; you had the urge to explore every nook and cranny; you may have simply wanted to move right in and make yourself at home. Could this be described as having a crush on a building? It might be an accurate description, because I think I may have fallen hard for the Montague Book Mill the first time I laid eyes on it. Tucked away along the rushing Sawmill River in the teeny town of Montague, Massachusetts, the Book Mill’s motto rings very true: “books you don’t need in a place you can’t find.”
Built in 1834, the building was first used as a grist mill, capturing the water power of the river to grind whole grain into flour, which was then purchased by local residents. In the 1930s, the building was purchased by a machine manufacturing company, until they left the site in the 1960s, leaving the mill empty. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that an enterprising soul attempted to rehabilitate the building and introduce a completely new used bookstore. Over the years, other uses were added, including an antique dealer, an artist’s workshop, a music and video store, and two restaurants.
This leads me to the Lady Killigrew Café. A simple endeavor, the Lady Killigrew serves up super fresh baked goods, sandwiches, soups, and salads, all while making a concerted effort at locally sourcing their food and beverages. We are talking cheeses from nearby Vermont, coffee beans roasted in Hadley, pickles made in the next town over, and eggs, milk and produce from the surrounding countryside.
Most times that I have visited the café, it has been on the earlier side, so I have typically gone with a very tasty grilled cheese, tomato and egg sandwich. On my most recent visit, however, it was closer to lunchtime so I was able to get a bit more wild with a curried chicken salad sandwich and fresh salad greens. Oh my goodness. We broke our self-inflicted rule and all three of us ordered the same thing. Good thing, or else we may have had a serious sharing problem.
The great news is, that even after four or five visits to the Book Mill complex under my belt, I still have so much more to explore. There is the Night Kitchen, the slightly more elegant restaurant that features gourmet food and a large deck perched right over the river. There is the opportunity to imbibe a few of the local beers (High and Mighty!) at Lady Killigrew while overlooking that same picturesque river one late afternoon. I won’t even get into their amazingly deep selection of books and small, comfortable reading spots scattered throughout the building where I can picture myself getting completely and happily lost in a novel, a baked treat, and a large cup of coffee.
A huge selection of interesting used books; great locally sourced food; and a truly amazing view. To me, this may be the sum of a perfect place. What is your formula? What makes a place truly special to you? Share with us below!
The Montague Bookmill is located in Montague, Massachusetts, about 20 minutes north of Northampton and just south of Greenfield. No matter where you are coming from, its worth the trip!