Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Winter Time at Greenfield Village

~ We come from the land of the ice and snow...

Taken years ago, back when Greenfield
Village was open into early January
I'm a four seasons kind of guy and I enjoy each one that Michigan has to offer. And I would probably enjoy winter even more if my favorite historical out-door museum, Greenfield Village, would remain open during January, February, and March.
You see, by the 1st of December they close up the Village for the daytime and only remain open for their special Christmas Holiday Nights evenings.
Though the adjacent indoor Henry Ford Museum stays open year 'round, Greenfield Village closes its gates after Christmas.
My own wish would be for them to remain open during the snowy months: how cool would it be to visit on a Saturday or Sunday and be able to take a horse-drawn sleigh ride? Or, during the late winter (and early spring) allowing folks to watch and possibly partake in maple sugaring?
I know...I've heard all the reasons why they don't do this (though they used to many years ago), but in my opinion they wouldn't need to open all of their houses as they normally do; they instead could have the two 'main' houses - the 1880's Firestone Farm and 1750's Daggett Farm (which are located on opposite ends of the Village) - be the only two structures open to the public so the visitors could see wintertime activities in the 18th and 19th centuries.
And take a sleigh ride to get to those locations to boot!
And maybe, as an extra added attraction: behind their Porches and Parlors area there is a sort of steep grassy incline that would be perfect for sledding. How many young kids today (besides those who have traditional parents like us) have ever been sledding?
Not many, I'm willing to bet.
And one of the best things is that the visitors would be able to enjoy the historic scenic beauty of wintertime that only Greenfield Village has to offer.
It's activities like this that can make the harsh cold winter that much more bearable. 
And it's history
But, unfortunately, this not to be.
At least for now. 
However, one never knows the changes that lie ahead...right?
So, in the meantime, since visitors are not allowed inside Greenfield Village during the off season, I must consider it a blessing when, back on November 22, 2015, we got a goodly amount of snow, therefore allowing many of us to partake in all that the Village has to offer for each season.
Mixed in are a few other pictures, those with the gray skies, that I took a number of years earlier.
Are you ready for a winter journey to our favorite place in time?

As I trudged along the wintry road to my favorite part of the Village, I passed the 1870 home and boarding house belonging to Sarah ("Aunt Sally") Jordan, who gave room & board to Thomas Edison's workers at his Menlo Park laboratory.

The Sarah Jordan Boarding House, built in 1870, originally stood near the laboratory where Thomas Edison and his men toiled in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Widowed in 1877, "Aunt Sally," as Sarah was known, lived in Newark, and was sent for in 1878 by her distant relative, Thomas Edison, to run a place for his workers to eat and sleep. With little employment opportunities for women, Mrs. Jordan accepted the offer and opened the home as a boarding house that same year.
Several of Edison's single employees lived here and would sleep two to three to a bed in the six rooms on the second floor. In fact, at the height of the laboratory's activities in 1880, sixteen boarders called this structure 'home.'

Ahh! There it is - the gateway to the colonial past! The Ackley Covered Bridge was actually built a half century beyond the colonial era in America's history, in 1832. This bridge is one of my very favorite historic structures in all of Greenfield Village.

Did you know that in the old days, before the age of the horseless carriages, they used to shovel snow onto the roads and bridges so it would be easier for the sleighs to travel? Yep - it's true, for many people would either own a sleigh or, in some cases, convert their carriages into sleighs for winter months.

The winter scenery was like nothing I've seen before. Like I mentioned, it's not very often that one is able to visit inside the Village while snow covers the ground, so this day was a major bonus for many of us.

Greenfield Village in the winter is like a postcard every where you turn. 

One of my favorite houses, the 1750 home of John Giddings, is rarely open beyond a few plexi-glassed rooms except during special occasions such as the Fall Harvest Weekends and Holiday Nights.

Giddings, a prosperous merchant and shipbuilder, built and lived in this home with his wife and their five children: Mary (1752), John (1754), Dorothy (1758), Mehetabel (1764), and Deborah (1770).
In December of 1790, it became the home of New Hampshire's first Secretary of State, Joseph Pearson, who, inside this house, married Captain Gidding's daughter, Dorothy, in April of 1795.

On the right, there, you see a house that was initially thought to have been built in the 18th century, but after some research and detective work by a few very astute historians, they found that this home, the Susquehanna Plantation, was actually built in the 1830s.

Henry and Elizabeth Carroll and their family built this house, known as the Susquehanna Plantation, in the mid-1830's, where it sat upon 700 acres, and enjoyed a prosperous life, including hosting extravagant parties. They had five children.
Their 75 slaves, however, did not enjoy the same good life; they slept in 13 small, wood shacks with dirt floors and were made to work brutal hours in the fields, especially during harvest time.
The Carroll family was one of the wealthiest in St. Mary's County - the slaves alone, according to the 1860 census, were valued at $49,000. Among the slaves were skilled craftsmen, including blacksmiths, carpenters, coopers, shoemakers, and seamstresses.
  During the Civil War Remembrance Weekend on Memorial Day this house is used prominently in scenarios. Ahhh...hard to imagine reenactor tents set up now, though, isn't it?

The brick over the large fireplace of the Plympton house dates to 1640, to the original home of Thomas Plympton. Plympton was a founding father of the Puritan settlement of Sudbury, Massachusetts, and lived there with his wife, Abigail, and their seven children. This, after he came to North America from England as an indentured servant.
Do you see the year 1640 carved into the brick?
The original house that Thomas Plympton built burned down in the early 1700's, with the fireplace you see here the only remaining remnant of its being. The generation of the family who were living there at the time of the fire rebuilt the home around this original chimney. 
What do we spy just beyond the Plympton House?
The Daggett House - my favorite in all the Village!

Samuel Daggett, a housewright, built this saltbox house right around the year 1750.
The breakback (saltbox) style was a very popular style of architecture in colonial New England. The most distinctive feature is the asymmetrical gable roof, which has a short roof plane in the front and a long roof plane in the rear, extending over a lean-to.
It is a beautiful example of distinctive later 17th and 18th century architecture at its finest.

Though 'saltbox' is the most familiar term for its style for us in modern times, those who lived in Connecticut (where this house was originally built) in the 1700s would have called it a 'breakback,' while folks in Massachusetts favored 'lean-to.'  

The mid-1600's Farris Windmill relocated to Greenfield Village from Cape Cod is on the left of the home of Samuel Daggett and his wife, Anna. No, it wasn't originally part of the Daggett farm back in the 18th century, by the way.
A winter's day...a rare one in November.

The most distinctive feature of the breakback architecture is the asymmetrical gable roof, which has a short roof plane in the front and a long roof plane in the rear, extending over a lean-to. This style of New England architecture utilized a central chimney, with this one in particular having three fireplace openings on each of the two floors. English settlers created this style by adapting a medieval house form to meet the different needs and climate of North America. The design was perfect for the harsh New England climate.

Besides building houses, Samuel Daggett worked the family farm and grew many different crops and raised several types of animals on his farm, for his family's use or to sell or trade for other things the family needed. From his account book, we know that Samuel Daggett grew wheat, corn, barley, oats and tobacco; made cider from the apples in his orchard; and raised cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens. One would think that would be enough to keep the man plenty busy, but, in order to provide for his family, Daggett also had additional sources of income, including making furniture; he made chairs, spinning wheels and even coffins.
Surprisingly, we find that he pulled aching teeth for his neighbors, a skill he learned from his father.

Now here are a couple of colonial winter scenes that not only includes the Daggett House, but the Plympton House as well (with Cotswold peaking in the background).

Across the street is the Cotswold Cottage collection.

Henry Ford desired to show America's ancestral European life and sent his agent, Herbert Morton, to find a typical Cotswold stone house for Greenfield Village. Morton eventually located this circa 1620 Rose Cottage in Chedworth, Gloucestershire, England, and found that it was for sale.
The workers dismantled the structures stone by stone - numbering each one individually - and packed them in gravel sacks. Soon the Cotswold collection was on its way to Dearborn, Michigan (via boat and then train), as were a number of the English builders, eager to help with the reconstruction.

Meanwhile, up the street a bit - - -
Another winter scene opens before us.....

As you may or may not know, the former home of newspaper columnist George Matthew Adams, since being brought to the Village back in 1938, has been presented to show everyday life from around the time of Adams' birth in the 1870's.
However, it is going through a major change: sometime in the future, the Adams House will become the "Saline Baptist Parsonage," showing the structure as it was during the 1840's when it actually was a Baptist Parsonage.
I am personally very excited for this change to happen, for the 1840's is one era that I felt was under-represented inside Greenfield Village.

I took this photo of the Adams House during Christmas using a slow shutter speed, so the shadows you see are some of the people strolling by that the shutter could not capture.

Or are they...?
Next up - - - - a beautifully serene scene right out of New England (though it's in Michigan): 
Across the Village green I went...
I see in the center the beautiful Martha-Mary Chapel, built right inside Greenfield Village. The bricks and the doors came from the building in which Henry Ford and Clara Bryant were married in 1888 - the Bryant family home in old Greenfield Township (from which the Village name was taken), and the bell, according to the 1933 guide book, was cast by the son of Paul Revere.
The name "Martha-Mary" came from the first names of his mother and mother-in-law. 

The gray building on the left is the Logan County (Illinois) Courthouse - the very same one that Abraham Lincoln himself practiced law in.
The little red structure on the right began as a school house in 1838 but was purchased by Doctor Alonson Howard in 1855 and turned into his own doctors office.
(For more on Dr. Howard, please click HERE

The local general store and the tavern. 
The JR Jones General Store, built in ca1870 is from the Waterford area of Michigan. And the Eagle Tavern, though it can be a fine substitute for a colonial era structure (mostly on the inside), is actually from around 1831.
(Click HERE for more information on the Eagle Tavern)

Making our way to the Village's opposite end, we walk through city sidewalks, busy sidewalks...
This is a photo of a part of the 'town' area of Greenfield Village. From the left is a replica (albeit much smaller) version of the first Ford Factory from 1903.

Next we have the Cohen Millinery Shop, originally located at 444 Baker Street in Detroit. It represents the new wave of specialized stores in the larger cities in the late 19th century. It was here that Mrs. Elizabeth Cohen made her living decorating women's hats from 1892 to 1903, catering to mainly the middle class genre.

To the right of the millinery we have the Heinz House. It was in the early 1860's in this Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania brick house, built in 1854, that Henry John (H.J.) Heinz (b. 1844), the son of a German immigrant brickmaker, produced the first of his more than "57 Varieties" of ketchup. Using horseradish grown in the family's truck garden along the Allegheny River, the boy grated and bottled it in vinegar in his mother's new basement kitchen. Yep, Heinz 57 was born right here in this building!

On the other side of town...
It was in this simple two-story clapboard farmhouse (the white house in the distance) built in 1861 on the dividing line of Springwells and Dearborn Townships in Michigan, that Henry Ford, the first of William and Mary's six children, was born on July 30, 1863.

The sheep poke through the snow to find grass in which to graze.
The Loranger Gristmill..... 
From colonial times and well into the nineteenth century, gristmills flourished in America, especially after the summer and fall harvests, by meeting an important local need in agricultural communities: grinding the farmers' grain into flour, usually using large, circular stones. Gristmills flourished in America by meeting an important local need in agricultural communities by grinding the farmer's grain into flour. 
Henry Ford purchased the 1832 Loranger Gristmill, located on Sunny Creek near Monroe, Michigan, in January of 1928. It was one of the few structures moved to the Village without prior disassembly.
Making our way to the 1880s - - - - we see another winter scene unfold before us.

And we made it to the opposite end of the Village, from the 1750s Daggett Farm to the 1880s Firestone Farm - - 
The dirt road to Firestone Farm, on this day, was covered in snow. The corn shocks in the distance are set for animal feed. If you look above the house and barn you will see a flock of geese flying over head.

As we move toward the house, we spot the snow-covered heirloom apple orchard.

The following six photographs are not mine. They were taken by a few of the presenters and others who work for the Village, and I am sorry to say that, except for Larissa Fleishman and Lee Cagle, I cannot remember the names of the others. But they all know my love for this place and have very kindly shared their winter pictures with me, and I appreciate them allowing me to use these wonderful photos in my blog post!
The Firestone Farm was originally built by Peter Firestone in 1828 in Columbiana, Ohio (just a few miles from the Pennsylvania border), and was "updated" in 1882. It was brought to Greenfield Village in 1983 and is now a gem among gems inside the Village.

Among the family members living there in the latter half of the 19th century was young Harvey Firestone, the grandson of Peter, who would later gain fame and fortune in the tire industry and became a close friend of Henry Ford.

The Firestone Farm, as it stands now in Greenfield Village, is a living history re-creation of life on a farm of the 1880's in Eastern Ohio, and has been restored to look as it did in 1882, when Harvey's parents remodeled the house to give it a more modern look. The wallpaper and furnishings throughout the house show what was considered stylish in the later Victorian era.

During the 19th and into the 20th century, the Firestones raised a large flock of sheep, with wool being their 'cash crop,' but they also harvested oats, hay, corn, and wheat.

And now, back to my photos: 
Winter on the farm...

A cozy sitting room with a warm fire aglow

The road to the future...

As we head back to the future, we see the corn shocks protecting the feed for the livestock.

And now we say goodbye, but only for a little while...
But before I final picture...of the front facade of the Henry Ford Museum, an exact replica in every detail to Philadelphia's original Independence Hall. 

I find it funny how different I am from many who live in this region of our country for I find myself more tolerable and, dare I say, even enjoying our weather in nearly every season (I do not like the extreme heat and mugginess of summer, nor to I like extreme cold temps - below 0 - of winter). And this helps me stay in a much better mood than so many of my friends who's tolerance is way low.
This time traveler is prepared for reality...
Have a great day!
And, until next time, see you in time.

To learn more about how those in the past survived winter, please click HERE
To learn more about the Daggett House, please click HERE
To learn more about the Plympton House, please click HERE
To learn more about Firestone Farm, please click HERE

~   ~   ~

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