Old Sturbridge Village, the largest outdoor history museum in the Northeast, depicts a rural New England town of the 1830s. Step inside more than 40 original and seven reconstructed buildings all situated on more than 200 scenic acres. Three areas (the Center Village, the Mill Neighborhood, and the Countryside) show different ways of rural New England life in the 1830s.
The working farms of Old Sturbridge Village feature several Heritage Breed animals including chicken, sheep, pigs, oxen, and cows. All of the animals are similar to the ones that would have been found in 19th-century New England with distinct qualities that made them ideal for the weather and the farmer’s needs.
Old Sturbridge Village, a museum and learning resource of New England life, invites each visitor to find meaning, pleasure, relevance, and inspiration through the exploration of history.
People – especially the trained costumed historians – are what make Old Sturbridge Village a truly special, interactive museum experience.
From the 1930s onward, buildings were translocated to the museum, but several dwellings were reconstructed from scratch. The Quienabu River Bridge is a covered bridge spanning the Quinebaug River, which runs through the Village. The bridge itself was built in the 1930s and the wooden covering added in 1953. Until a flood in 1955 it served as the main entrance to Old Sturbridge Village.
The Gristmill was one of the first buildings constructed at Old Sturbridge Village and dates to 1939. Built on the site of the Wight family’s original gristmill, the mill is made of recycled old timbers and new lumber. The mill’s massive millstones and other parts came from the Porter Gristmill in Hebron, Connecticut.
Originally called the Village Inn, the Bullard Tavern was built in 1947 to serve food and beverages to visitors at Old Sturbridge Village. Today, it is named for Cromwell Bullard, who owned and operated a tavern in Sturbridge in the 1830s (now the Publick House Inn and Restaurant).When the Bullard Tavern was built in the mid-20th century, the architectural philosophy was that buildings needed to look and feel appropriate to the time and region but did not need to be exact reproductions. Therefore, while the tavern incorporates some original materials, the building is primarily a 1940s impression of a 19th-century tavern.
In farming communities, disputes inevitably arose when one person’s livestock damaged another person’s crops. New England laws required farmers to fence their fields and keep farm animals from straying. Owners had to pay a fine to a town-appointed pound keeper to recover stray animals and were liable for any damage the animals had done.
The large stone Town Pound is a reproduction from 1955. Most pounds were not as substantial —many were simple wooden pens.
This rare water-powered sawmill—erected in 1984 on the millpond site that David Wight, Jr. first created in the 1790s—is used to cut lumber for Old Sturbridge Village and other historic sites. The Sawmill is based on what had been one of the oldest surviving sawmills in the area: the Nichols-Colby Sawmill of Bow, New Hampshire, which was destroyed in a 1938 hurricane.
The Tin Shop at Old Sturbridge Village is a reconfigured early 1800s shed. Here, “tinners” work with hand tools as well as machines that were new innovations in the early 19th century. These machines turned tinplate, made grooves and folds, and inserted wire, increasing a shop’s production. The shop was reconstructed in 1985.
Small House is Old Sturbridge Village’s newest “old” house, built with historic construction methods and materials between 2003 and 2007. The building reproduces the small homes that were common in New England in the early 1800s. Homes of this size or smaller might have sheltered newlywed couples, poor families, laborers, people of color, and renters.
Text source: Old Sturbridge Village