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Gordon Thorne: Remembered In Western Massachusetts For His Art, Philanthropy And Guidance

Gordon Thorne at 33 Hawley, in Northampton, Massachusetts, the site of a future Northampton Community Arts Trust performance space. Thorne was one of the trust's founders.
Stephen Petegorsky
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https://spphoto.com/
Gordon Thorne at 33 Hawley, in Northampton, Massachusetts, the site of a future Northampton Community Arts Trust performance space. Thorne was one of the trust's founders.

For many, his name is connected to Thorne's Marketplace in Northampton, Massachusetts, which he once owned, but Gordon Thorne was also a visual artist and a philanthropist. He died last week at the age of age of 77.

Thorne is credited with providing affordable and unique spaces for people to work, from land for farmers at Bramble Hill Farm in Amherst, which he and his wife turned into an education center, to affordable work and performance space for artists.

Leslie Ferrin, owner of Ferrin Contemporary gallery in North Adams, said she met Thorne 40 years ago, when she was just starting a pottery business in the basement of the building he then owned. Other artists were on the 5th floor. Thorne has been their role model, she said.

"He really made us think about how to be creative, [how to] support the creativity through the collaborations and the interaction with community, and a belief that together we are stronger," Ferrin said.

As rents go up in Northampton, Thorne most recently helped establish the Northampton Community Arts Trust, which is in process of a $2 million renovation at a former lumberyard in downtown Northampton.

Correction: An earlier version of this story identified Leslie Ferrin's gallery by its former name.

Jill has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing The Connection with Christopher Lydon, Morning Edition, reporting and hosting. In the months leading up to the 2000 presidential primary in New Hampshire, Jill hosted NHPR’s daily talk show The Exchange. Right before coming to NEPM, Jill was an editor at PRX's The World.
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