Sturbridge Things to Do

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    Rock candy in the village store
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Best Rated Things to Do in Sturbridge

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    Old Sturbridge Village

    by leics Updated Aug 5, 2011

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    If you are in the general area do make a visit to this 'living' museum...it really is excellent.

    Old buildings have been brought in from the surrounding area and re-erected to create a 'village' as it would have been in the 18th and 19th centuries. You'll find farmhouses, a school, shops, workshops, a pottery, a bank and lots more.

    Costumed 'history interpreters' carry out daily tasks within the village...you can talk with them, and perhaps help them out. They add a huge amount to the whole experience.

    You can ride in a stagecoach (not romantic at all, thoroughly uncomfortable!), take a boat trip across the lake, have a lesson in the schoolroom (quite unlike UK schooling at the time), wander through the woods, enjoy old-fashioned sweeties from the village store and lots more.

    My Sturbridge page gives more detail, and there are more photos in the travelogue. But do seek this place out...you'll be glad you did. :-)

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    On the way to Boston....

    by davecallahan Updated Feb 7, 2007

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    We took the grandkids to Old Sturbridge Village to get a feel for real American history.

    This was part of a trip through Massachussetts to teach what it meant to live and work at the time of the American Revolution. In Old Strubridge, we were able to see tin smiths and iron workers, bakers and politicians, basket weavers and barrel makers. There was farming with hand plows and horse and oxen, the homes were slat-board and log and brick. The fireplaces took up half the kitchen and the floors were raw planks or flagstones.

    Everyone in the village had there own work to contribute to the community and the actor/volunteers really made it come to life for the kids.

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    Old Sturbridge, Center Meeting House

    by atufft Written Jun 30, 2010

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    Center Meeting House, Sturbridge, MA
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    Originally built in 1832, this church was dismantled, moved, and reconstructed from within Sturbridge itself, yet provides a vivid example of the prototypical white church and steeple found throughout New England, and indeed a good part of the eastern and central United States. The period after the American Revolution witnessed a growth in church membership as the deist Enlightenment Period receded in popularity, and new denominations spun off from the Puritan roots within New England and to elsewhere in the USA, including various Baptist, Pentecostal, and Mormon denominations. Twice daily worship was common in this building during its tenure, but the building also dually served the secular function as town hall in many communities. The Baptist denomination that occupied it rebuilt a newer structure and swapped this old building for a new church organ. During restoration the museum rebuilt the clock mechanism, installing the clock movement and three wooden dials from the Whittington Mill of Taunton, Massachusetts in the steeple. This steeple clock was made by the Howard Clock Company, circa 1870. The steeple bell is struck on the hour, but can also be rung manually. Pews inside reflect the customized seating of the day, whereby families donated for an upgrade in comfort for the wooden pew where they sat twice or three times per day. Wealthier families had better positioned pews and more ornate improvements.

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    Old Sturbridge, Fitch House

    by atufft Written Jun 30, 2010

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    Fitch House, Sturbridge, MA
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    Another old home is devoted to a display of family life. Originally built in 1737 in Willimantic, Connecticut, and later restored to this location in 1939, Fitch House is a home that was expanded over the years, providing ample first floor living for a large family. Each room is restored to the furnishings and belongings typical of a middle-class New England family, including original antique furniture and children's toys from period. The formal adult parlor, where children weren't allowed, is roped off to protect the carpet and collection of antiques, but beds in the children's room are made available so visitors can experience the comfort, or lack thereof, of a 19th century mattress. Nearby is the Corn Barn, originally from North Scituate, Rhode Island, and built circa 1790-1820, and rebuilt by OSV in 1965. The house grounds includes a flower garden and a wood shed.

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    Old Sturbridge, Introduction

    by atufft Written Jun 30, 2010

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    Entrance path in Old Sturbridge, MA
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    Old Sturbridge is a living museum of costumed locals who live and work within a village of collected and reconstructed 1790-1840 era New England rural village buildings. Originally created from a collection of artifacts owned by Albert and Cheney Wells, the museum opened in 1946 and includes some 40 carefully restored authentic period buildings brought from all over New England and assembled into a village. Some buildings are reconstructions of buildings too deteriorated to be saved, but important to recreation of 1830 village life. The village provides instruction on the working and recreational lives of a bygone era now completely unfamiliar to those in this modern age. The museum has ongoing research and restoration activities at the museum and elsewhere in New England through the foundation. Farm animals, stage coach rides, and antique children's games are part of the activities, making this a pleasant family and adult adventure. There are also a wonderful museum bookstore, gift shop, and cafe.

    The museum is open daily 9:30am-5pm. Regular admission is $20 for adults, $18 for senior citizens, $7 for children 3-17, and free for infant children. See website for complete details.

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    Old Sturbridge, Small House

    by atufft Written Jun 30, 2010

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    Small House, Old Sturbridge, MA

    One of the last contributions to the village is a home found nearest the entrance. The museum had difficulty finding a simple worker home from the 1830 period, since most had disintegrated or been greatly modified into a newer structure. However, in a village nearby, an intact severly deteriorated house was found that served as a architectural model for the newly constructed house at Old Sturbridge. The home was originally built by costumed workers who roleplayed the process for the entertainment of visitors. Though poor by standards of the day, the heavy beams and wide plank floors would be the pride of most any neighborhood home today. Outside is a hand dug well with bucket.

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    Old Sturbridge, Bolton Friends Meeting House

    by atufft Updated Jun 30, 2010

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    Bolton Friends Meeting House, Sturbridge, MA
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    A few steps past the entrance to the village, and just down the road from the simple home, is the Bolton Friends Meeting House, is an authentic building once occupied by the Quakers in Bolton, MA. The simple lines and natural light of the all wood interior architecture are particularly beautiful and can't be missed, despite the unimpressive exterior grey appearance. Initially built in 1796, this building served the original New England community of Quakers for 130 years, until its move and restoration at Old Sturbridge. Although the building had been expanded to meet the needs of a growing 19th century congregation, the restoration work involved reducing the structure back to its original 30 by 35 foot dimensions. The building had been deeded over for preservation to the Sturbridge Museum after the shrinking congregation choose to abandon the building and share space in another protestant church building.

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    Old Sturbridge, Fenno House

    by atufft Written Jun 30, 2010

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    Spinning Yarn at Fenno House, Sturbridge, MA
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    Fenno House is the oldest building at Old Sturbridge, originally built in 1704 in Canton, MA, well before the American Revolution. By the period of 1830, this home, old even by standards of early 19th century, was occupied by a widow and her daughter, and was in typical fashion devoted to small in house textile production. Time devoted to this labor was spent disproportionately on carding fibers and spinning thread, in preparation for a rather short period of weaving or sewing. Thus, their business struggled to compete with the newer factory textiles being produced, and important part of their work increasingly focused upon custom knitting of gloves, blanket weaving, and artful quilt sewing. The house has many original artifacts for such textile production, as well as for life within the sparsely decorated home. Explanations of various fibers, cotton, silk, wool, and flax, are included as well as a display about fashions of the period. The nearby barn is a reproduction built in 1988 to demonstrate the lifestyle of the widow and her daughter from the early 19th century, and there are surrounding vegetable gardens showing how these villagers supplemented their diet and lifestyle. Today, authentic textiles are made on the equipment and used elsewhere in the museum.

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    Old Sturbridge, Salem Towne House--Exteriors

    by atufft Written Jun 30, 2010

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    Salem Towne House, Sturbridge, MA
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    One of most prosperous citizens of the village would have been Salem Towne, Jr. who inherited his house from his father, and continued to manage a productive farm and dairy, often working with and boarding his hired labor, and who regularly furnished for the community the best of dining and dancing. This house was built in Charlton, MA in 1796 and moved to Sturbridge in 1952. The barns are reconstructions of period architecture, while the Cider Mill (c. 1835) originally came from Brookfield, New Hampshire. We enjoyed petting a calf, that we were assured would not end up being butchered at a meat packing plant, but would rather be used as a draft animal on the farm.

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    Old Sturbridge, Salem Towne House--House Interiors

    by atufft Written Jun 30, 2010

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    Salem Towne House, Sturbridge, MA
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    The Salem Towne House is of outstanding craftsmanship, and the flower garden a symmetrical and formal one. There are two kitchens, an upstairs formal dining kitchen, and a downstairs one for making soap, butter, cheese, and so on. There is a formal dining room, a formal parlor, and a master bedroom, all with antique furniture from the period. But, there are also informal bedrooms that children of the master often shared with hired help.

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    Old Sturbridge, Thompson Bank

    by atufft Written Jun 30, 2010

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    Thompson Bank, Sturbridge, MA
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    During the Jacksonian period, which began around 1830, the power of European banks centered in New York and Philadelphia was demolished in favor of local institutions that printed their own paper based upon locally held gold and silver reserves. There was no formal central bank within the United States until the formation of the Federal Reserve in the 20th century. Chartered in 1833 in Thompson, Connecticut, this building dates back to 1835. There are iron doors on front, a rather primitive safe, a stove, and clerk desks. The exterior Greek revival architecture is most impressive and provides the basis for bank architecture commonplace later in the 19th century, and indeed until very recently.

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  • Olde Sturbridge Village

    by bosoxfan75 Updated Nov 17, 2005

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    Great family activity during the warmer months. They trucked in genuine colonial buildings and created a mock Early-American village! All employees are dressed in colonial garb; maintenance is done using old tools - not riding mowers here. It's a bit small - you can probably cover everything in 1/2 day.

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    Scarecrows

    by ShireLass85 Written Jun 5, 2006

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    On the green in the center of town every year for a couple of weeks before Halloween is a scarecrow contest. Take some time to browse and vote for the entries... not your typical scarecrows, but usually scenes constructed with the same care and uniqueness as a float in a parade. Different categories like kids, artist, group. Shops and restauants around the green, stay for a while. A local tradition to check out if you're passing through in the fall.

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