Old Sturbridge Village – Links to Our Past Guide, Part 2
by Cliff Calderwood
Once described in a 1950 article as "The Town That Wants to Be Out of Date," Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts is a lovingly recreated village of early 19th century New England. You’ll be whisked back to the dawn of modern commerce and experience what life was like in a typical New England Village of that time.
This is the second part in the series of popular attractions for New England vacations with a historical theme. Others in the series are Plymouth Plantation, Mayflower II, and Mystic Seaport.
Old Sturbridge Village opened to the public in 1946 and received 5,000 visitors in its first year of operation. Today nearly half a million visitors a year experience the authentic buildings and wonderful collections of artifacts on display.
Sturbridge Village is set among 200 acres of rural Central Massachusetts, and located 60 miles west of Boston off exit 9 on Route 90.
Since opening nearly 60 years ago the village has survived a destructive hurricane, flooding, and the occasional fire - look for the high water mark notched on the Gristmill on the millpond from Hurricane Diane.
Where Plymouth Plantation focuses on the early years of settlement in the region, Old Sturbridge Village covers the beginning of prosperity, and a more sophisticated existence built around the emerging commerce of 1830s America.
A word about the buildings…
Many of the structures are original and moved here from villages in Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Reconstructed and restored with painstaking care they tingle your senses with their rustic charm, and simple designs.
Unpaved country roads lead you around the common and to outlying areas of inviting barns and craftsmen establishments, such as the shoe and tin shops. Here you’ll see and talk to role-playing 19th century craftsmen. Marvel as they skillfully produce goods using only the tools and resources available in the 1830s.
Both a museum and educational resource, Old Sturbridge Village is primarily a place to explore for all ages. The centerpiece is the recreated New England town and outlying areas containing more than 40 buildings to visit, experience, and enjoy.
Sturbridge Village contains both residential homes, as well as a bank, printing office, and stores and shops. You’ll learn why banks didn’t do personal loans, but who did. And why the buildings called Meetinghouses, weren’t called churches - even though each Sunday most villagers spent four hours worshipping in them.
Pay a call on the Salem household in their handsome Towne House, and then stop by and have tea at the Parsonage before visiting the Fenno and Fitch dwellings. These residential homes on the common in Sturbridge Village are full of surprises and homely comforts.
And if you need to stop for refreshment, Sturbridge Village has plenty of picnic areas if you’ve brought your own food, or you can purchase hot and cold fare at Bullard Tavern, or treats at Little Cakes. Options to eat change with the seasons so be sure to check the guide the day you visit.
The vision of the original founders of Old Sturbridge Village was for a place to learn by doing and direct experience – an active outdoors museum. I’ve always found Sturbridge Village a welcome change of pace and reminder that quality of life has nothing to do with a car or the latest wide screen TV.
Plan to spend at least 3-4 hours at Old Sturbridge Village. Remember a ticket to Sturbridge Village is good for two days within a 10-day period. For more information on schedule, events, and ticket prices, check out the official web site at: www.osv.org.
About the Author
Cliff Calderwood is the owner and contributing writer of www.new-england-vacations-guide.com . You can read other vacation articles and get a free travel report at his OInsiders Guide to New England Vacations web site.