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Deerfield Village, 330 Years of History

By James H. Hyde
Editor

Deerfield

History fascinates me, and Historic Deerfield, almost a mile-long collection of houses, built over the past 330 years, plus 1,000+/- acres of views of budding farmland, Historic Deerfield Village is nirvana.

Together with the houses there are a number of exhibition galleries that represent precious pieces of Americana extremely hard to find even in a slew of antique shops.

Oddly, when Historic Deerfield was incorporated in 1952 and the collections of period pieces began in earnest, it was not the work of a wealthy local family that acquired these amazing treasures.

Henry Flynt and his bride, of Greenwich, Connecticut, drove their son to Deerfield Academy in 1936. When they visited him, they toured the original old houses located in Historic Deerfield. Astonished by the how the houses had been preserved, the Flynts bought them, one at a time, restored them and populated each with antiques already in the village and collected from all over the world.

Deerfield Camp
1704 Colonial Encampment Weekend, a Historic Deerfield commemeration of the French and Native Raid of 1704. Here reenatcors are pictured preparing for reenactment of the raid. Courtesy of Historic Deerfield Village Copyright © Deerfield Village 2000-2008 . All Rights reserved.

The results of their dedication, time and money are: thirteen houses, built originally between 1730 and 1850 and the display of over 25,000 antiques both in the houses and in the Flynt Center of Early New England Life.

In addition, the original mile of old houses has expanded to over 1000+/- acres of land in Deerfield that comprises The Old Deerfield National Historic Landmark, land that is still farmed as it has been since the first settlers arrived.

New England truly offers multiple "somethings" for everybody, but here in Deerfield especially is the sense of history as rich as the most exquisite gourmet meal. For those interested in seeing architecture and antiques evolve, this is one place where it is done with magnificence, attention to the slightest detail and true style. People in search of one place where one can see early America as it aged through the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries can find it here.

The historic Hall Tavern welcomes guests to Historic Deerfield. Courtesy of Historic Deerfield Village Copyright © Deerfield Village 2000-2008 . All Rights reserved.

But the collections, the views over the 1,000 acres, the tilled land sprouting with this year’s crops are the stationary things to enjoy. There are also interactive offerings (see below).

The admission for an All of Deerfield ticket is $14 for Adults, and $5 for Children (6-21); Single Tour tickets are $7 for Adults, and $5 for Children. Admission tickets are good the day of purchase, and the following day.

Questions about Historic Deerfield can be answered by calling: 413-775-7214.

There is as well a complete section devoted to family activities to learn about everything from cooking to how insects were used for a wide variety of purposes. For a complete schedule and explanation, visit this page. A shortened version appears below.

MAY 2008

May 3 * New Exhibition Opening
Into the Woods: Crafting Early American Furniture
Antique Table
Jennifer L. Anderson, assistant professor of Atlantic History at the State University of New York Stony Brook, will present, "The Mahogany Connection: From American Rainforests to New England Parlors." Courtesy of Historic Deerfield VillageCopyright © Deerfield Village 2000-2008 . All Rights reserved.
Features works by famous American cabinetmakers including Duncan Phyfe and Honoré Lannuier, Samuel McIntire, John and Thomas Seymour, and John Townsend. Through the antique furniture you can learn all there is to know about how furniture was made, as well as to be able to identify genuine antiques.

May 3, 17, 24, 31 * Demonstrations
Open Hearth Cooking
9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Hall Tavern kitchen
Here you will learn about early American cooking and visit the Cooks’ Garden, which is dedicated in memory of Margaret Quinn Orloske. Included with general admission.

May 3–4, 10–11, 17–18, 24–25, 31–June 1 * Family Activities
May Flowers
12 noon–4 p.m., History Workshop
Here you can learn and understand how flowers were used in olden times. Included with general admission.

JUNE 2008

June 1, 7–8, 14–15, 21–22, 28–29 * Family Activities Garden Herbs
12 noon–4 p.m., History Workshop
Herbs were used in a variety of ways in times past from adding spices to food and how to make one’s house smell good. Herbs played a very important role in early American life.

June 7 * Special Event
Garden Day, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Hall Tavern
Here is where you can learn how different gardens were planned, grown and harvested for a variety of reasons, in the celebration of the role of "the garden" in the lives of New Englanders. Included with general admission.

June 7, 14, 21, 28 * Demonstrations
Open Hearth Cooking 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Hall Tavern kitchen
Here you will learn about early American cooking and visit the Cooks’ Garden, which is dedicated in memory of Margaret Quinn Orloske. Included with general admission.

JULY 2008

July 5–July 31 * Daily Family Activities
Insect Investigations, 12 noon–4 p.m., History Workshop
Insects provided a wealth of different things from honey to inks, red dye and cloth. Some of the tiniest insects play some very big roles: the tiny midge pollinates the flowers of the cacao tree, without which, we wouldn’t have chocolate. Included with general admission.

July 5, 12, 19, 26 * Demonstrations
Summer Cooking 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Hall Tavern kitchen
Here you can learn how to preserve summer produce and managed to stay cool in a hot summer kitchen. You’ll also learn how lemonade and switchel (a drink made with molasses, ginger, sugar and water) were made. Included with general admission.

July 10 * Summer Lecture Series
Understanding Wood in Early American Furniture, 7:30 p.m., Flynt Center of Early New England Life (air-conditioned)
According to the Deerfield Village Web site on this page, Bruce Hoadley, professor of Building Materials and Wood Technology in the Department of Natural Resources Conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will present the first of three talks in the series "Seeing the Forest for the Trees: The History of New England Woodlands," related to the new exhibition Into the Woods: Crafting Early American Furniture. Free.

July 17 * Summer Lecture Series
The Mahogany Connection: From American Rainforests to New England Parlors 7:30 p.m., Flynt Center of Early New England Life (air-conditioned)

Jennifer L. Anderson, assistant professor of Atlantic History at the State University of New York Stony Brook, will present the second talk in the series. Free.

July 24 * Summer Lecture Series
From Logs to Lumber: A History of People & Rule Making in New England

7:30 p.m., Flynt Center of Early New England Life (air-conditioned)
Tom Whalen, author, will present the final talk in the series. Free.

AUGUST 2008

August 1–17 * Daily Family Activities
Insect Investigations, 12 noon–4 p.m., History Workshop
Insects provided a wealth of different things from honey to inks, red dye and cloth. Some of the tiniest insects play some very big roles: the tiny midge pollinates the flowers of the cacao tree, without which, we wouldn’t have chocolate. Included with general admission.

August 30 * New Exhibition Opening
What’s New: Recent Acquisitions at Historic Deerfield, 2007-2008

Opening August 30, 2008
Included in Historic Deerfield's newest additions: an exquisitely decorated pole screen dated 1810. The wooden elements are attributed to Greenfield cabinetmaker Daniel Clay (1770–1848). On view through February 1, 2009.

NEED A PLACE TO STAY?

For places to stay near Deerfield, please click on the following links: South Deerfield, Massachusetts and Northampton, Massachusetts.

OTHER PLACES TO GO AND THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN THE SURROUNDING AREA

For other things to see and do in the Deerfield area, please Click Here.

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