Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Visit to Old Sturbridge Village

This weekend, we visited Old  Sturbridge Village, which is about 20 minutes away from our home. The Village is a wonderful place to spend family time together just walking around and glimpsing life in the 1830s. Almost all of the buildings are original from that era but have been moved to this setting in order to portray a slice of early New England life. As you walk from the park entrance into the village, signs tell you how long ago the American Revolution took place and how long before the Civil War. While not exactly half-way between these historic events, OSV is about in the middle socially and economically.

If you write about Colonial America, OSV is one of the best places to visit for research purposes. The parsonage is decorated exactly as it would have been 180 years ago. Costumed interpreters answer questions inside the houses and businesses and there's even a working Tin Smith and Blacksmith. The Sawmill and Grist Mill both operate during the warmer months (they're water powered so ice hampers production). There are a couple of stores. We went into the Knight Store, a mercantile selling all kinds of goods. Look at the shoes! At the rear of the store was a room full of barrels for sale - possibly made at the Cooper shop down the road in the village.

Anchoring one end of the Village Green is the Towne House. We didn't go inside on this visit. What caught our interest, as it does on each visit, is this fabulous arbor. Can't you just picture a couple strolling through the gardens then sitting on a bench under this trellis?

At the Freeman Farm, visitors to the Village can go sledding, 1830s style (weather permitting). There wasn't enough snow on the ground this weekend - bummer! Though simple in construction, these sleds look like fun. A sign posted nearby subtly notes that this was a recreation enjoyed by boys. This is one of the reasons I'm so glad I was born in the 20th century.

Life in the 1830s wasn't as easy as we have it now. But families stayed together and helped each other out. The OSV website states: "In the early nineteenth century the land on which Old Sturbridge Village now stands was David Wight's prosperous farm, including sawmill, gristmill, and well-situated millpond." The story told is that David Wight borrowed some money from his father to play the Harvard lottery. He won - and paid off the mortgage on his father's farm as well as getting his farm set up to prosper. Family was important.