Old Sturbridge Village for Grownups

Takeaways May Vary from When You Were 10

Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts provides the younger set with a glimpse of life in the 1800s, but will grownups be interested in what this living museum offers? Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts provides the younger set with a glimpse of life in the 1800s, but will grownups be interested in what this living museum offers? Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

My memories of Old Sturbridge Village from a school field trip a number of years ago trend toward the role of women, how much time they spent in the kitchen back in the 1800s, and how long it takes to churn butter. Also, men with long hair looked funny to me then.

Stagecoach rides are available at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Stagecoach rides are available at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

But is Old Sturbridge Village viable for the adult set? I find out on a roadtrip to Massachusetts where this is one of the stops. This time around my impression is entirely different: having wanted to stay as far away from the 19th century as I possibly could back then, now I would not mind stepping back in time a bit.

Would you be able to make your way around an 1800s kitchen? Pictured, a kitchen in one of the houses at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Would you be able to make your way around an 1800s kitchen? Pictured, a kitchen in one of the houses at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

As a visiting youth, I thought how far we as a society had come: electricity! indoor plumbing! careers for women! As a visiting adult, I think how much we have lost: how many of us know how to raise our own food? could survive solely on the output of our own, relatively small, garden? could start a fire and then actually cook something edible over it?

Suggestions for frugal housewives of the 1800s found on a kitchen table in Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Suggestions for frugal housewives of the 1800s found on a kitchen table in Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

This time around, I am struck by the sustainability of times past, the farm-to-table life that is so desirable—and still fairly rare—now. I marvel at the herbs hanging from the ceiling in the small house, savor the slowness of life where transportation is via stagecoach and a bridge is covered, and wonder whether I could abide by the recommendations of a book called The American Frugal Housewife, which is dedicated “to those who are not ashamed of economy.” I relish the work-from-home aspect of life and the short commutes for those not so fortunate.

Life on a slow lane: the covered bridge at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Life on a slow lane: the covered bridge at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

When You Go

  • Visitors of every age can enjoy learning about life in the 1800s at this living museum.
  • Wear your walking shoes! The village for the most part is flat, but there are 200 acres and 40 buildings to cover.
  • Think about where you would have fit in in times past—and whether you would have been allowed to pursue your passion.

Old Sturbridge Village, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, Mass. 01566

—Lori Tripoli

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