A couple of weeks ago I shared the doors from the Avenue of States at the Big-E. I’m not going to go back through all the details about the Big-E, 5th largest state agricultural fair, all six New England states, blah, blah, blah. What I didn’t share was the fact that on the other side of the Avenue of States is a unique attraction, and more than a few doors.
My favorite, the door at the right, is on the blacksmith shop of Jos. Clark & Son from Chesterfield, MA.
That address is important. The Eastern States Exhibition Grounds are located in West Springfield, MA, which is about 25 miles southeast of Chesterfield. Another mystery? No, this is easy to explain.
Almost 100 years ago, Helen Storrow, bought the blacksmith shop and had it reconstructed on the grounds of The Eastern States. The “smithy” as it is properly called, sits at the outskirts of Storrowton Village.
Helen Storrow was a philanthropist in the early 1900’s. She was involved with the Woman’s Suffrage movement, the Girls Scouts and many other movements and organizations. She was put in charge of “The Home Department” at Eastern States and she decided that she wanted to establish an example of an early American settlement to help emigrants, among others, to learn about New England history. Between 1927 and 1930, she purchased nine buildings from cities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and had them moved and reconstructed on a “town green” inside the exhibition grounds. The cost, in 1927, was almost $500,000!
Today, Storrowton Village is an active living history museum that is open year-round on the exhibition grounds. The village is used for education for school groups and tourists. The Inn is an operational restaurant serving diners and hosting events for parties as large as 400 people. You can attend blacksmith classes at the smithy, attend broom making classes and you can even attend reenacted classes in the one-room school. In addition, 50-60 couples get married in the Meeting House every year.
Helen’s concept, design and experience were shared with others, including the family that started Old Sturbridge Village. You can take a virtual tour of Storrowton Village here, and you can learn even more about the history here.
The photos featured in the gallery today were all taken at Storrowton Village, the same day in January when I took the photos of the state buildings. During the spring, summer and certainly during the Big-E in September, the grounds are much more colorful. The buildings are open and over 100 volunteers in period costumes are available to show, demonstrate and explain these wonderful buildings.
This post is part of the ongoing and fascinating series by Norm Frampton called Thursday Doors. If you want to join us door addicts, snag a photo of a door, visit Norm’s page before noon on Saturday and click the blue linky thing.