My visit to the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, NY


Here I am at the entrance to the Farmers' Museum: the Colonial Revival Styled Barn designed by Frank Whiting

Here I am at the entrance to the Farmers’ Museum; the Colonial Revival Styled Barn designed by Frank Whiting

Located in central New York, one mile north of the Village of Cooperstown, on the west side of Otsego Lake is the Farmers’ Museum. The museum is sited at 5775 State Highway 80 Cooperstown, NY 13326, which is on land that was once owned by the popular and prolific early 19th century writer James Fenimore Cooper. Cooper was the author of The Last of the Mohicans. Since Cooper’s days, the land changed hands a couple of times, until the Clark family bought “Fenimore Farm” in the 1870s. Edward Severin Clark in 1918 commissioned architect Frank Whiting to design a Colonial Revival Styled barn, creamery and herdsman’s cottage using local stone. Those buildings were erected to house his prized herd of cattle, and are now offices, display and public areas that you first see and enter through before you step back in time to rural life in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

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)IMG_0853IMG_0854 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”. IMG_0856IMG_0859IMG_0863 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. IMG_0867IMG_0869Right 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 ;-]IMG_0874 IMG_0876IMG_0877So 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. IMG_0891IMG_0884 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.IMG_0881IMG_0880 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. IMG_0922 IMG_0918 IMG_0917The 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.IMG_0901IMG_0923 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.IMG_0907IMG_0927IMG_0929IMG_0933IMG_0931IMG_0935IMG_0940 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.IMG_0942IMG_0944 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.IMG_0946IMG_0960 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. IMG_0998IMG_0995The 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.

Companion Posts..
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.


About fredgonsowskigardenhome

Your eyes deserve to view beauty. I hope Fred Gonsowski Garden Home helps to turn your vision, into a reality.
This entry was posted in Garden Visits (Road Trips), The Summer Garden. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to My visit to the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, NY

  1. The website for The Farmer’s Museum is

    Some other places to see while in Cooperstown, NY..

    Across from the Farmers’ Museum is the Fenimore Art Museum The Fenimore Art Museum contains some of the best examples of American landscape, history and genre paintings. The Eugene and Clair Thaw collection of American Indian Art, and one of the nation’s most comprehensive and significant American Folk Art is housed there. There is also a well stocked gift store, and a cafe.

    The Otesaga Resort Hotel is just down the road from the Farmers’ Museum, it has beautiful views, casual and fine dining and by all accounts is a Grand Hotel.

    The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is a shrine to all things Baseball, a must see for sportsmen and women, the world comes to Cooperstown to view its hallowed halls.

    Alex and Ika Restaurant One of my favorite places to eat, while in town. I love their Bat sandwich and their french fries are great. Rachel Ray and Hillary Clinton both have dined there.

    Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard just outside of town, has animals for kids to see, an enormous gift shop, and wonderful apples, preserves and jellies, fudge, and other things of interest.

    For a boat ride while in Cooperstown, I recommend The Glimmerglass Queen

    For more information about Cooperstown attractions look the this site

  2. teresa says:

    I didn’t see the link! This looks like so much fun. We have Shaker Village down my way. I really wish we still wore bonnets; for some reason I find them really cute.

    • Hi there Teresa I just started listing the links right after posting my article. I wanted it right after my piece, and with all the links to the different places, I had to just mark my territory (don’t I sound like a dog ;-), and fill in the blanks after getting my spot. They are all now in place ;-}

      As for wearing hats, I say go out, buy one and wear it. People of style never follow the masses. Be a trend setter, you never know who you will inspire.

  3. P.W. says:

    Hello Fred! Another great post! I am originally from LI, and I never knew that museum was up in Cooperstown! I will have to make the trip up there next time I am in NY. Ironically, I believe the carousel was restored on LI, not far from where I lived. If that is the one, we couldn’t even get in to see it being worked on. Hope you are enjoying your summer!

    • Hi there P.W. Glad you liked my post. Years ago I sold art work in Cooperstown, on the Labor Day Weekend, when the Leather Stocking Brush and Palette Club sponsored the Arts and Crafts Fair. A lot of people from New Jersey and the New York area always were at that event. I wish I had a better picture of the carousel, but it is hard seeing what the camera took, until you look at the photos on the computer.

      P.W. enjoy the rest of your Summer also, how quick it is going ;-[

  4. P.W. says:

    It IS going quickly! Been so cool lately it feels like fall in the air! Btw, love the chicken on the carousel! Did you ride on the carousel?

    • P.W. NO. I get bouts of vertigo here and there, so the up and down action and the spinning might set it off. I did take the wagon ride around the property, had hot chocolate and a yummy brownie. That is before we went to Alex and Ika’s, in town, for lunch.

  5. Carolina says:

    Hi Fred,
    Looking swell in that straw hat. Hope you bought it. Will keep your head cool when working in your garden. I enjoyed the tour. Thank you 🙂

Leave a Reply to Carolina Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s