Arlo Guthrie’s church was extensively used in his 1968 film Alice’s Restaurant, which became kind of a hippie-era cult classic. It may still show up on some cable station now and then. According to Arlo’s version of the story, which he tells in his long narrative song of the same name, it’s supposed to be true.
The film has one brief scene, of New Haven train #138 at Stockbridge.
Berkshire historians know that there never was an “Alice’s Restaurant” — not by that name anyway! Its most recent reincarnation was as Theresa’s; used to be known as The Back Door.
Old photos show as many as five tracks across from the church. This is where the State Line branch went off the main line. All freight and passenger business was done here. The lines paralled up to Rising or Dalys, where the branch went off to State Line. There is a large block of marble where the station was and I have always wondered if it was part of the foundation? Last Passenger train to State Line was a “Mixed Train”.
Alice Brock’s “The Back Door” was in “downtown” Stockbridge, at the rear of an alley. That’s the establishment spoken of in the song, and briefly featured in the film, which was all shot on location.
As a result of Arlo’s song and film, Alice sort of got “discovered” and opened a considerably larger and far more upscale establishment up on Rt. 183 across from Tanglewood, called “Alice’s at Avaloch” (which, by the way, Arlo was a business partner in). Last time we were in that territory that place was called “The Apple Tree Inn.” I don’t know what it is today. Last I knew, over 15 years ago, Alice had moved all the way across Massachusetts to P’town. Don’t know if she was still in the restaurant business there!
Arlo and his “brood” are still active in the area. His Guthrie Center at the old church is doing a lot of community-oriented stuff today. As far as I know, they handle their garbage in more conventional ways nowadays!
He himself lives on a farm in Washington, MA. His home in Sebastian, FL got pretty much wiped out in the hurricanes of a couple of years ago.
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