Tuesday, July 03was home to the state's oldest covered bridge, the Upper Sheffield Bridge off Route 7, 0.8 miles north of the town center, but it was destroyed by fire in 1994; arson was suspected. A replica of the historic original, built in 1832, was completed in 1999, carrying foot traffic only on Bridge Road over the Housatonic River. Adjacent is the first town-owned public access to the river on land donated to the town by the Weinstein family. The Bushnell-Sage Library is considered a small rural library gem and the public literacy center of the town. It has been part of the CW-MARS mutual lending system for more than 15 years. It has extensive public programming, advanced technological facilities and a Local Authors Day. With more than 14,000 annual visits, it contains more than 33,000 books, 1,800 videos and about 700 audio materials, and its annual circulation approaches 30,000. The 247-year-old Old Parish Church (First Congregational Church of Sheffield, United Church of Christ) is the second oldest church in the county and is the oldest church building. Renovations and modernization of the sanctuary are under way. It is home to the Sheffield Food Pantry, serving 20 to 30 needy local families, and has inaugurated a regular concert series. Bartholomew's Cobble, off Route 7A in Ashley Falls, is owned by the Trustees of Reservations and is known for outstanding flora and fauna, freshwater marshes
and beaver ponds, and Hurlbutt's Hill, at 1,700 feet offering panoramic views of the Housatonic River Valley. The reservation offers five miles of trails for moderate-level hiking. Municipal services center on the highly regarded police and firefighters as well as the Highway Department's road crews. A strong sense of volunteerism survives in the town, exemplified by the recent landscaping project outside the Bushnell-Sage Library. The Berkshire School, a noted Grade 9-12 boarding school with nearly 400 students, is on Route 41. It's the home of the Berkshire Choral Festival, which hosts about 200 singers from around the nation and the world each week during its summer season and presents concerts on Saturday evenings. Major businesses include Sheffield Plastics, believed to the largest private employer in town, as well as Wilkinson Excavating and Sheffield Pottery, which mines clay and sells it to local potters; a gift shop is on the premises. Although Sheffield passed the Scenic Mountain Act in the 1970s, it did not submit it to the Legislature for approval. An open space and recreation plan is being formulated this summer for submission to the state.