A must see for those who appreciate antiques

lazypupJune 20, 2011

Jan and I are annual members and frequent the "Old Sturbridge Village" museum at Old Sturbridge, Mass.

The museum has collected buildings and constructed a working agricultural & light industrial community depicting rural life in New England circa 1763 to 1830. All of the homes and shops are open and they are all furnished in the period with either genuine antiques or in some cases reproductions that were made on site using the original techniques and materials.

In many of the shops, homes and farms they have staff members dressed in the costume of the period and performing the day to day chores as they were originally done.

The museum has working farms where they have livestock, horses, cows, oxen & sheep so they are open year around as they plant, till and harvest crops to feed the animals and raise fruit and produce which is used for cooking demonstrations in the kitchens. In addition, they shear the sheep, process the wool to yarn and actually make many of the clothes that they wear or make finished items that are sold in their gift shop. I am attaching a photo I took of the Tinsmiths shop, where they take flat sheets of tin and make kitchen utensiles, scoops and storage containers of all sorts, reflector ovens to be used in front of an open fireplace to bake cakes and pies and some very ornate candle lanterns. In the photo you can see the tinsmith working at the bench and their are three finished candles lanterns on the bench beside him. He actually makes 10 to 12 of those candle lanterns in a day.

Some people might think the entrance fee is a bit much at $20 per adult, but if you return to the museum a 2nd time within 10 days you get in free.

One the other hand, Jan and I bought a 1 + 1 membership for $80 and with that the person who's name is on the pass may get in and bring a friend as many times as you care to go for a year. We go there about three to four times a month and yet, every time we go it is different because they are doing different things on the farms or have some special demonstration going on. A month ago we saw twin baby lambs less than an hour after they were born.

And for those actually looking to buy real antiques, the surrounding community is a mecca of antique dealers for about 5 miles in any direction.

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Been meaning to do this for a long time. My parents took us kids up there back in the 70's and I don't remember much. Thanks for the reminder. What are your favorite antique shops in the area? Have you been over to Palmer?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 7:29AM
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I've been to Old Sturbridge Village and frankly was disappointed because it was a reproduced village. For sure the antiqueing in the area is good, but for authenticity I really prefer Colonial Williamsburg Virginia. It's more of a city, but more of it is real, and of course, historic.
We have a similar display near here albeit not so large, called Living History Farms, with areas showing how a farm might have operated at different periods, from the early Indian settlements to the early 20th century, and there are the craft shops and booths at various times of the year. I have a wonderful corn broom that I watched being made in the way it would have been about 1920.
Linda c

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 10:05AM
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Isn't most of Williamsburg a 1920s-30s Rockefeller funded restoration/recreation? I know there were some 70 colonial era buildings at the start, and a few dozen of these are essentially restored/unchanged since that time, but I was under the impression that a lot of the public buildings were recreations in dramatically altered buildings or complete facsimiles.

At the time they compared purchasing an entire tract of a small town like Williamsburg vs. the same amount in Philadelphia and Boston and both logistically and financially, of course, Williamburg was the logical choice. There is really very little truly original, intact architecture in our history, because progress used to be considered much more important than preservation.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 11:16AM
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No....colonial Williamsburg is an area of some 300 acres and I think about 80 original 18th century buildings. The governor's palace is original the College of William and Mary is original and dating to the late 17th century as well as many other buildings. Some have had more extensive restoration than others, but Williamsburg is not a reproduction, it's history and really where it all happened. Sure there are "faux old" buildings built on site for shops and such....but there are lots of old houses that are part of the restoration and tucked in among the "open to the public" houses, there are people living in lovely antique homes, without any evidence of modern conveniences.
It's really a beautiful place....lovingly maintained and restored. And, where restorations have been made, they tell you about it and for example about the porch that was there in the late 19th century that was not original and so removed....etc.
Not to be missed for antique and history lovers.
Linda c

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 11:38AM
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Sorry....upon further reading I see that only about 55 buildings were really "original"...the Governor's palace was built from the old foundation as were many other buildings. And of course pavement and wiring and other "modern" improvements were removed.....but what is not original is either "of the period" as with furnishings or authentically recreated.
Colonial Williamsburg....that part run by the Foundation is different from the shops and stores at the perimeter. while built in the "old style" they have no relation to actual buildings existing during Colonial times.
williamsburg is a restoration of an historical place, while Old Sturbridge is a collection of "shops" housing collections built from the ground up on land bought for the purpose.
Both are fun to visit....but if I had to choose...Williamsburg wins every time.
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 12:32PM
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Lindac,, I don't know where you got your information but every structure at Old Sturbridge with the exception of the main entrance are old original structures that were located throughout the state of Massachusetts and moved to sturbridge to set up the village. In fact there is a book in the gift shop that shows where each building was originally located and how it was moved.

There is one house on site that is furnished with reproductions because they allow the public to tour throughout the house, sitting on the furniture or lying in the beds to get a feel of colonial living. All other structures are furnished with genuine antiques.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 2:56PM
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Lazy, Oh thanks for posting this..I Love the lanterns, they are beautiful..Any idea of how they were priced in the gift shop? Just curious..Thanks

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 7:12PM
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They "reinterpreted" Colonial Williamsburg back in the late 80's/early 90's and undid a lot of the speculative and incorrect 1920's interpretation based on better research. What you would see there now is considered very accurate.
If you like that colonial claptrap...

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 7:28PM
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Dotz, I am not sure what the price is because I had the oppotunity to make my own, but I am going there again tomarrow and I will look.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 10:33PM
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The turquoise and magenta wall colors and intense carpets Ing Governor's Palace attest to that. Just like Jefferson's stoplight yellow dining room. None of those faded "Williamsburg" colors. :)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 11:40PM
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