Old Sturbridge Village - History
By Sarah Lane
Jan 26, 2005, 14:57

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Old Sturbridge Village - History

Old Sturbridge Village is located about an hour west of Boston, Massachusetts. The site is a history museum and interactive learning resource that explores New England’s past. Open year-round, this special museum is unlike any other. In the center is a re-created rural New England town from the 1830’s on over 200 acres of historical land. There are over 40 structures including restored buildings brought from across New England, as well as authentic reconstructions. During the winter you can go on a horse drawn sleigh ride through the Common. Visitors generally stay three to four hours, but many come back to visit for a second day. Your ticket to the non-profit site is good for a two-day visit is used within ten days of your first visit.

The land on which Old Sturbridge Village resides was once a prosperous farm in the early 19th century. It had an operational sawmill, gristmill and subsequent millpond. The story behind the inception of this living museum began with George Washington Wells and his three sons, Channing M., Albert B., and J. Cheney Wells. They each had a passion for collecting antiques from New England’s past that would ultimately result in the founding of Old Sturbridge Village. The Wells were concerned with preserving pieces of the past in stark contrast to the ever-changing world of the 20th century. Soon their collection became too big not to be shared with the public.

The family incorporated the Wells Historical Museum in 1935. Soon thereafter historical buildings were transported to the location and used as galleries to display the many artifacts the family has collected over the years. Then came the next big idea: to have a working village with fully operational shops. They would have this outdoor museum with craftsmen and costumed staff as well as houses and artifacts. Work on the construction of this museum continued from 1937 into 1938, but was halted briefly after a great hurricane washed away much of the progress.

Eventually on June 8, 1946, Old Sturbridge Village opened to the public. Admission was $1 and over 81 people toured the Village in their cars, which was permitted back then but isn’t now. That year 5,170 people visited the living museum. Today is boasts over half a million visitors annually. Old Sturbridge Village has become a national treasure and a story of immeasurable importance in America’s history.

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