Plans are coming together for the 2017 Annual meeting at Old Sturbridge Village, an organization and venue that has had a relationship with EAIA as far back as 1946, the date that the Village was founded and opened for business. The Village interprets life in a rural New England village during approximately 1790 through 1840, a period of great economic, social and industrial change. It includes more than 40 original buildings, including homes, meetinghouses, a district school, country store, bank, working farm, three water-powered mills, and trade shops - all situated on more than 200 scenic acres. In addition, the Village has a collection of more than 50 thousand items and an extensive library of early works.
View of the Village Green looking west
View of the Village Green looking east
Old Sturbridge Village serves as an ideal location for the Annual meeting, providing all of the resources in one location necessary to address the interests of every EAIA member, from those interested in its extensive collections to those interested in seeing how things were done in the period represented….and perhaps of more interest….how to do them. Old Sturbridge Village not only has very knowledgeable interpreters and a very extensive collection and library, but it is well known for its educational philosophy, particularly a hands-on approach to learning by doing.
The interpreted aspects of the Village revolve around life in a typical village of the period. The historic homes are interpreted for activities that were typical for residences which range in size and sophistication from a very small family house (the Little House) to the simple but comfortable home of a blacksmith (Bixby House) and ultimately the sophisticated, large, and well-furnished home of a well-to-do farmer (Salem Towne House). Kitchens are often in operation and domestic activities such as spinning and sewing are evident.
Food preparation at the open hearth
The typical crafts of the period are demonstrated at the appropriate venues, in the shoe shop, blacksmith shop, tinsmith shop, and cooper shop, all of which are relocated historic buildings.
Tinsmith setting down the bottom of a pierced lantern
Cooper at the shave horse making bucket staves
Of particular interest to those interested in early industrial processes of towns near rivers….and most were near rivers….are the mills of which the Village has three: a gristmill, carding mill and sawmill. All three are powered from the Village’s millpond on the Quinebaug River and are operating on a regular basis.
Loading grain in the gristmill
Cutting planks in the sawmill
Members of the Fiber Interest Group will enjoy the wide range of fiber arts interpreted at the Village. The fiber processes start where fiber starts: with sheep and plants, all part of the agricultural aspects of the village. The process continues with various fiber processes including dying, carding, spinning, weaving and ultimately design and sewing.
Sheep shearing with traditional shears
Wool dying with natural dye over an open fir
Members will also be interested in a number of static exhibits including guns of the period, lighting, glass and one of the country’s largest collection of clocks of the period.
Uniforms and weapons of the enrolled militia
The Cheney Wells Clock Gallery
Several of the events of the Annual Meeting will be held in the onsite dining and convention facilities of the Village including the Stephen Brewer Theater and the rooms of the Oliver Wight Tavern.
The 250 seat Stephen Brewer Theater
The Oliver Wight Tavern Ballroom
Perhaps one of the most attractive aspects of the Annual Meeting activities will be the hand-on activities for which the Village is very well known and emphasizes as part of engaging history. These will include actually doing blacksmithing and tinsmithing in the Villages educational facilities. For the Fiber Interest Group it will include planning and starting a fiber arts project while at the Village.
The planning for the 2017 Annual Meeting at Old Sturbridge Village is coming along well. Save the date (May 17-20, 2017) and look for information in the coming months about the detailed program and registration.