When I was in first grade, my teacher read to us each day after lunch. One of the books I found most fascinating was “Little House on the Prairie.” I loved hearing about 19th Century life …pouring home-made maple syrup on snow to create candy…churning cream to get butter…the first time the Ingalls family got glass windows for their home…the things they found in their Christmas stockings. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I find historic sites and living history museums so fascinating.
One of my favorite living museums is Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, NY. Although it is somewhat smaller than Colonial Williamsburg in size, it has nearly the same number of buildings open to the public and its interpreters are equally skilled. One of the fascinating features of the museum is that it is composed of historic buildings from across New York State that were dismantled where they stood, transported to Mumford, and carefully reassembled, floor-by-floor and door-by-door. The Pioneer Settlement, the Antebellum Village and the Turn of the Century section cover the architectural periods from the 1780′s to the 1920s.
We visited for Independence Day which also marked the arrival of the Intrepid, a Civil War era balloon. Balloonist, retired U.S. Army Aviator & Aviation Maintenance Officer and re-enactor John DeParro of The Civil War Balloon Corps shared that balloons were first used for war surveillance and reconnaissance work under Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency. The original Corps was conceived of and overseen by Professor Thaddeus Lowe and the balloonists provided intelligence on the location, strength and weaknesses of the enemy.
On any day, visitors can enjoy interactions with the museums interpreters who demonstrate period skills and answer questions about their trade. Very often, they take the role of actual characters who lived or worked at the site, so they are able to give real insights into the activities that took place there. We spoke with Dorothy who was busily preparing dinner in her role as cook w in the Livingston-Backus home. She shared insights on the spices she was using and let the children in the audience lift the wooden cover to the stove and pump the water into the sink in her ultra-modern kitchen (for that time).
Because it was July 4th, we were also treated to a fife and drum-led parade, several concerts , sack races, stilt walking, croquet and other games throughout town as well as a pie-eating contest (no, we didn’t enter). Although some of these events were special for the Independence Day Celebration, there is never a shortage of activities at Genesee Country Village and Museum, and there are often special events happening throughout the year. One of my favorite events is Laura Ingalls Wilder Days (think young girls dressed in their prairie best) which often coincides with the National Silver Ball Tournament at which genuine 19th Century base ball is played.
The grounds are fairly extensive – some 700 acres – so they offer a free hop-on, hop-off tram service to transport guests across the beautifully-landscaped grounds, and there are shady areas with seating for those steamy days. Twenty-first century food is sold throughout the village (unfortunately, due to department of health restrictions, the food cooked in the historic kitchens may not be sold).
Genesee Country Village and Museum is located at 1410 Flint Hill Road in Mumford, NY and is open May 14 through October 16, Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 AM to 4 PM and Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 AM to 5 PM. The museum is closed Mondays, except Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day and Columbus Day. Museum fees are shown below.
|John L. Wehle Gallery (reopening in August)||Nature Trails
|Senior Citizen (ages 62+)||$12.50||$13.50||$5||$5|
|Student (with valid ID)||$12.50||$13.50||$5||$5|
|Youth (ages 4-16)||$9.50||$10.50||$4.50||$4.50|
|Child (3 and younger)||FREE||FREE||FREE||FREE|
There are also a few special activities, such as balloon rides ($15/ride and dependent on weather) and crafts for which there is an additional, usually nominal, fee (i.e. $3 to make a tin ornament).
Genesee Country Village and Museum a great day-long outing for individuals, couples or the entire family.
P.S. You may also want to investigate their Explore and Learn programs that feature Day Camps, Scout and School Programs as well as adult programming.
Photo info: Header photo is of Civil War encampment at Genesee Country Village & Museum.
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All text and photos copyright 2012 © Carol White Llewellyn. All rights reserved.