The Farmers’ Museum is a private, non-governmental educational organization. The 19th century historic village that makes up the museum, and houses over 23,000 items, ranging from butter molds to the Cardiff Giant, is composed of buildings not initially built on the property, but gathered from rural communities around central New York State. All the restored buildings provide a glimpse into the commercial and domestic life led by rural people of the time.
Recently I attended the Member’s Meeting for the New York State Historical Association, which is on the campus that makes up The Farmers’ Museum and The Fenimore Art Museum, so I took my camera along. For this post I am showing you one of my favorite places The Farmers’ Museum. Hope you like my little tour. (Click on photos to expand images) On the ground floor of the great stone barn, are “America’s greatest hoax” the Cardiff Giant, and this years show called “The Pick Up Truck, America’s Driving Force”. Upstairs in the barn are an assortment of tools used to manufacture products like baskets, shoes, barrels, wagon wheels, do carpentry projects, etc, as well as an assortment of wagons, coaches, and farm implements used to work the fields. The thing I find most interesting about this part of the museum is that many of the things on display there, my grandparents, Walter and Anna Gonsowski had and used on their 152 acre dairy farm in Melrose, NY. My grandparents, along with their son Fred (my father) emigrated from Poland to America in the late 1920’s. Grandpa and Grandma Gonsowski were used to having horses pull their wagons, hay rakes, and other farm machines, so many of the things on view at the museum, I remember seeing them use, when I was a kid and visited their farm. Right outside of the stone barn, as you get ready to step back in time, is the Empire State Carousel. Its 24 colorful hand-carved animals, bright lights and happy music transport you back to childhood. If you like, why not take a ride, you know the kid inside of you wants to ;-] So now we enter the Historic Village; the first building on your right is Todd’s General Store. The General Store is filled with all kinds of interesting treasures. I’m seen trying on a straw hat that a farmer of the period would wear to do field work. Our next stop is the Blacksmith Shop where interpreters, dressed in period clothing, work the furnace and are seen making an assortment of things for use at the museum. Across from Todd’s General Store is the Westcott Shop where broom making and weaving are shown. One of the docents is seen, hard at work, making a woven tape. The Print Shop is our next destination, where the Master Printer and two assistants print newspapers, flyers, and other things as needed on ancient hand run presses. The next two buildings are the Law Office (white building on the left) and the Pharmacy (brick building on the right). Between the two buildings is the pharmacist, Dr. Thrall’s garden where medicinal herbs are grown. Many of the plants growing there are still seen in everyday gardens today. Facing the Tavern Green is the Bump Tavern. Here I’m seen on its porch with the Inn Keeper, Mr. Bump. The tavern has warm and inviting rooms to meet travelers and town-folks’ needs. There is a tavern room, a parlor, many bed chambers for guests, and a community room on the second floor for public meetings. There is also, alongside the inn, a quiet semi-formal enclosed garden where guests could go and relax and enjoy what is growing at the moment. Also facing the Tavern Green is the Cornwallville Church. Its simple interior is quite spiritual, and is the perfect place to say a prayer, relax or meditate for a moment. The Lippitt Farmstead is our next stop; domestic life in the 1840’s is shown there. The preparation of meals, weaving, gardening, raising of small animals like chickens and turkeys, and all things a person would do “at home” during the period are recreated by period dressed interpreters. The Filer’s Schoolhouse is our final destination on my tour. This one-room schoolhouse makes me think of my father and his sisters (Mary, Helen, Josephine and Fran), who in the early, middle and late 1930’s, along with other farm children attended a one-room schoolhouse that was a little more than a mile away from their upstate New York farm. The stove, shown in the middle of the classroom, is similar to the one my grandparents had on the second floor of their farm house.
The Farmer’s Museum has many other attractions to visit. Besides the Lippit Farmstead, that I showed on my little tour, there are other period houses to go through filled with interesting furniture and accessories. There are many barns to see; with bales of hay stacked to their ceilings, and out buildings where barnyard animals are housed. There is a pig pen, a turkey house, poultry house, a granary, a drive shed where horse pulled wagons are displayed, and even a wonderful maze next to the More House to explore. While at the Historic Village take a wagon ride around the property and have a cold beverage, hot drink, delicious goodie or a light lunch at the Crossroads Cafe.
I hope you liked my little tour. The link to the Farmers’ Museum, and some of my other favorite spots in Cooperstown, NY will be in the first comment following this post.
A return visit to Spencer and Katrina Trask’s YADDO, Saratoga Springs NY 8-29-2012,
BerkshireBotanical..A visit to the Berkshire Botanical Garden Stockbridge, Massachusetts USA 8-10-2012,
Martha was there and so was I, TRADE SECRETS CT. Sharon, Connecticut 5-24-2014.