In between camp duties and Rev War programming during Redcoats and Rebels weekend, I was able to snatch a bit of time to visit a good portion of the buildings that make up Old Sturbridge Village. For those of you unfamiliar with the site, OSV, located in Sturbridge, MA, is one of the largest living history museums in the country. It began as the vision of a single local family with a passion for history and collecting antiques; as their collection grew larger, so did the germ of the idea to construct a site worthy of displaying and sharing their valuable antiques with the public.
Slowly, building by building, the family began to collect 18th- and early 19th-century structures to both house their collection and to serve as demonstration platforms to preserve and teach early industrial New England trades and crafts. Most of the buildings that make up OSV are thus not original to the site, but have been carefully moved there and restored to help bring to life the small village feeling so representative of rural New England during the first four decades of the 19th century. The village contains a meetinghouse, several general stores, a gristmill and sawmill, numerous trade sites, a working farm, gardens, and a number of private homes of all sizes. Costumed interpreters share stories of early American life while performing the work (and play!) of the village's 1830s citizens.
If you're interested in reading more about OSV's long and fascinating history, they have an excellent essay on it on their website here.
What follows is something of a photo essay of some of the domestic interiors and work spaces I encountered on my journey around the village. The exhibit spaces - particularly the domestic ones - are beautifully staged to speak eloquently about the lives of those who once occupied them and called them home. Everywhere you look, there are "personal" touches and details that make the museum experience extra special and even more memorable.
Situated on the village green, this c1748 house was moved from its original location in eastern MA to its new home in 1940, where it now interprets the typical home of a New England minister.
The Salem Towne House
From its perch at the foot of the green, the 1796 Salem Towne House's imposing size and elegant architecture commands the admiration of all who pass by. In the 1820s and 1830s, it was the home of Salem and Sally Towne and their large family. The rooms of the house now interpret the family life of this well-to-do businessman, with toys strewn about the parlor and fashionable furniture and decorative pieces gracing its rooms.
The Freeman Farmhouse
Original to the town of Sturbridge, this 1808 farmhouse was relocated to OSV in 1950 to interpret New England farm life of the 1830s. As a fully-functional farm with multiple barns to house animals and extensive fields in which to cultivate crops common to the central MA location, the Freeman farm site recreates the natural and seasonal rhythms of rural, pre-industrial daily life.
Additional photos from around OSV can be found on this flickr set. Ashley also posted photos and further information from one of her previous visits in an earlier post, which you can find here. If you're interested in learning more about these buildings or about visiting Old Sturbridge Village, be sure to visit their website!