By now you should know that Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts is one of my favorite places to visit, enjoy and support. If you forgot, click on this link for posts about those visits.
COVID has changed much, including this event and the closing of OSV’s lodging facilities. But when I got a member’s notice for CHRISTMAS BY CANDLELIGHT for 2022 with a chance to stay in the OLIVER WIGHT HOUSE, and with tickets I immediately signed up for a two night stay and visit. How can I not want to again stay in a 1780s Colonial with original Rufus Porter murals?
On Saturday, December 10, I back-roaded through Massachusetts scouting along the way. So many previous stops now closed, or no longer having “real” vintage or antique items. But really “making my day” was the purchase of a very uncommon child’s toy rotary printing press, with original box and almost all accessories, for my collection. Will have to do a post of that collection to share at some point, but here is some background on my printing enjoyment.
My plan was two evenings in the village – Saturday in the farm and mill area, and Sunday around the Common. I was overwhelmed with the number of cars in the parking lot, and mentioning that to the parking attendant he told me they were expecting over 3,000 people. Usually I plan my visits when there are maybe ten cars in the parking area. I always start my holiday posts here with a lantern on the walk in. Below is Sunday’s image with snow – nicer than Saturday without.
It was fun enjoying the happiness and excitement of the crowds, but on Saturday a tad too crowded for me. In walking to the farm area I passed the Meeting House, stopped in the store (relocated from Dummerston, Vermont), the Parsonage before crossing the Covered Bridge (also from Dummerston).
in the store was a history of Christmas Tree ornaments over time.
continuing on this side of the Common you pass the law office and then arrive at the Parsonage.
entering the door, there was a fellow demonstrating quilting. The only demonstration I saw this night.
I usually enter the bridge from the mill side, this time I walked down the hill from the Tavern to the “bridge of trees.”
and looking across the lake, exiting from the mill end of the bridge.
Probably one of my best all time experiences is when I BOARDED WITH THE BIXBYS in September 2018. Below is the fire where we cooked dinner, and my bedroom. You can click on my galleries for larger images.
Too many people were waiting to enter the Farmhouse, so I continued strolling to the pottery shop capturing this nice view.
About two and a half hours of strolling with the crowds, and since the Tavern only had the cafeteria line open, and not sit-down service as I enjoyed before, it was time to leave. But I stopped and enjoyed the Ginger Bread House display and competition on the way out. Here are two examples.
Earlier in the week when I was chatting with my son, David, he said, “why don’t I come out to visit while you are there.” Both my sons live just north of Boston (Gary visited for the Inndugence Tour just last week). Arriving about 11, we had a great four hours together. Lunch was at the Publick House on the original Sturbridge Common. Sadly I left my phone behind thinking I would not need it, nor take images. The Inn was so well decorated I wish I had it, but borrowed David’s phone to capture my amazing salmon meal. Cannot wait to get back again.
After David headed back home as the snow began to fall I headed back to the village.
Having now studied the program as to what was being shown about circa 1830s holiday activities, all was focused on the Common which I had saved for Sunday – AND – I was correct, with school and work the next day the crowds were thiner, but still all with festive people I enjoyed seeing and over hearing. I stopped first at the Small House where the origin and making of Christmas Stockings was presented.
Just up the path on the opposite side is the Friends Meeting House where there was a display bringing the entire town of Bethlehem to life. Absolutely amazing, and with less of a crowd I was able to visit with the interpreter/exhibitor – something I love to do at OSV. I am sorry I did not get his name, but asking how long it had been exhibited, the time involved to build, and the genesis of the display, he told me that he and his husband had been exhibiting twenty years, and made new pieces even this year. Tom, his husband, had been intrigued with his mother’s nativity scene, and that was the start. Art and history schooling and education helped in the development. Visit if nothing else for this display, only partially shown below – remember to click for larger images.
Continuing up the slight hill to the Meeting House and Common I always enjoy looking down at this farm area – now with a light cover of snow.
Just this past year, to the left of the Meeting House, is the newly constructed Cabinetmaking Shop. Normally making furniture in the 19th century ways, the two craftsmen were making toys that would usually be made at home in “off hours.” I found fascinating the device to hold down a piece with a foot treadle when the draw knife (shaving plane) was being used (last two images).
heading out of the Cabinetmaking Shop to cross the Common – I hope you like this early evening winter view of the Meeting House.
and, then to the Fitch House to see the display of straw ornament designs from around the world.
you should know that, besides “rocking chair studies,” I enjoy views out windows.
My next “big stop” was the Salem Towne House at the head of the Common, opposite (at a distance) from the Meeting House. In the downstairs rooms you explore the Christmas traditions from the 1830s, 1850s and 1870s, including the first known Christmas Tree in New England.
This first tree would have small candles, and gifts hung on the branches. Youngsters would charge the tree, pick a gift, and the candles (like a birthday cake) be blown out. The tree’s purpose finished, it would be removed and tossed outside.
finally in the next room I found my friend, Susan, docent/interpreter extraordinaire, and my teacher/hostess when I BOARDED WITH THE BIXBYS .
and the last room showing an 1870s dining room setting.
walking back outside, there was my friend George driving his team for tours. Ballard Tavern in the background.
and, looking to the other end of the Common – another perfect time at OSV.
If you have not yet figured it out – RAY RECOMMENDS Experience and Enjoy OLD STURBRIDGE VILLAGE. And, you can still experience CHRISTMAS BY CANDLELIGHT this year. But may I further recommend one of the best values I have ever found – The North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association. I have mentioned this before, but if you purchase a membership at a member organization, such as OSV, at a certain level (at OSV $100 or above) the free benefits at member museums are amazing. Treat yourself, and join a museum now at the NARM level of membership.
Scouting on the way home today, I bought some good books. But also Santa and one of his reindeer popped into my van. As I shared on Facebook – “I cannot go away for two nights without being followed home. The guy on the left hitched a ride from Sturbridge, and the forty inch tall fellow with his reindeer hopped aboard in Deerfield. They said they knew I needed help arranging my almost 100 trees.”
This is my 399th post sharing with you, and I have at least two more coming this calendar year – 2022. But, stay well, healthy, count your blessings, and Happy Holidays, As always, luv, RAY
Another winner! Loved the holiday photos and your colorful commentary, Ray! Thanks for sharing your interesting travel adventures. Have only visited Sturbridge once in the late seventies. I recall giant cookies called Joe Froggers… delicious! Have a blessed Christmas. 🤗 Carol
thanks again for looking Carol. I remember big cookies at one time at OSV, but not the name. Obviously made an impression on a youngster. One more holiday outing to write about – Strawbery Banke, and then my “tree tale.” As it is said, “stay tuned” and enjoy the season – RAY