Thursday Doors – Storrowton Village

Jos. Clark & Son Blacksmith

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.

73 thoughts on “Thursday Doors – Storrowton Village

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    1. Thanks Judy. This was one of those little bits of research that really made me smile. Her story is one of vision and in effort to bring her vision to fruition. I was very impressed, and I think I will take a bit more time the next time I’m on the fairgrounds when those buildings are open.

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  1. I really liked the way this woman, Helen Storrow, had a vision and spent quite a lot of money on the project! I have been to a few special places which had these old fashioned, traditionally trained artisans. The one you described is an excellent and very authentic place. Central Ohio has Ohio Village and we have Roscoe Village to the East. I believe I have been to Sturbridge Village. Excellent presentation with so much history today in your doors, Dan! :)

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    1. Thanks Robin. I was very impressed with Helen Storrow. Her Wikipedia entry is long, but it’s a very interesting read. $500,000 in the late 1920s was a LOT of money, and she gave it to the public to help people understand what she knew and loved about New England. I think that’s pretty remarkable.


    1. Thanks – It’s a lovely little village setting, and it’s so well done. She went to a lot of trouble to find the right buildings, and she was adamant that they be actual old New England buildings. I’m certain she could have built nine replicas for less than $500,000. In fact, I think the replica of the Connecticut State House was built for $30,000 around the same time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so impressed with people like Helen Storrow who have a vision and then make it happen. I wonder how many of these old historical buildings would be still standing in good condition if she hadn’t intervened?
    I love the entire building which contains the smithy. I don’t know about your corner of the world, but I don’t see many stone buildings in mine. What I noticed first was the great sign – looks like an anvil on it … rather appropriate for a smithy :)

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  3. The blacksmith door came up on the reader and caught my eye immediately! But there so much to love about the rest of the shots and post, too. I love places like this and if I’m ever back East with a car and time to explore, this will go onto my list, a list I should actually start and not just talk about. :-) I’m thankful for people or companies with the vision to preserve the past and who have the wherewithal to do so! I love the stone building, too, and the tiny law office


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m glad you like the gift shop. I was concerned that I had way too many pictures today. I couldn’t break them into two posts because I don’t know enough about the buildings. I almost left the gift shop out of the mix. I love the stonework, so I included every imaginable view.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I love stone buildings too. Although, I don’t even want to think about taking one apart, moving it and reconstructing it, especially in 1930! The Law Office is funky enough to get my number two vote, although I really like the school and the Meeting House just screams New England. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Norm. If you ever get close enough to see this, you need to let me know. We can have beer at the Tavern. I love stone buildings and that door looks like it has seen a lot of history.


  4. These are wonderful buildings… what a difference from the buildings are our living history location Fort New Salem at the same time period…. would make a great comparison…. I would just love to see that law office up close love that rounded roof line.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful selection this week Dan! I love the One Room Schoolhouse with its Bell Tower, and Red door! Love it!

    I love the color palette of the Law Office. Are those the original colors I wonder?

    The yellow Tavern looks cheery and would have been a welcome site to a weary traveler.

    The Union Bldg would be a lovely venue for a wedding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. As far as I can tell from what I’ve read, the original colors and details were preserved. She scoured New England for buildings that would look good together around her town green. The Tavern is open for business. I know they have weddings in the Meeting House, but I don’t know if the other buildings can be rented. They all include period furniture inside, so that may be an issue.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I’ve always liked that building. It is one of the most visible buildings from the path through The Big-E, so I’ve been admiring it for years. Some of the other buildings are blocked by the large tavern and the crowds during the fair.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True. For that time period she must have been AMAZING. Heck, even now, she would be pretty darn impressive. So let me rephrase. For that time period she must have been looked at as a superpower!

        Yes, yes, yes. Why would we want to stop photographing doors? There could be worse things to be addicted too!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Wendy. I think the Smithy is leading the comments, with the Law Office being a close second. That’s close to how I would list them, so I’m pretty happy. I do like to see these buildings preserved, especially to have them gathered together on the green, in front of the church. Perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great pictures. I loved the Atkinson Tavern. Have you ever stayed in such buildings? Spent a night or something. The Union Meeting House is sort of similar to Church of St Andrews here in Mumbai. I have the pictures so I’ll share with you.

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  7. How you find the time to go to the places you go much less write these involved posts about them is beyond me. Another masterpiece by you, Dan!! Wow!! I just watched a movie called “Suffragettes” which was riveting about women in London who insisted on voting for women. OH what those women were put through …. just awful and I still have “nightmares” about one particular incident. Anyway, I LOVE the door you favor but all the buildings and doors are fascinating. I just kept on going back and forth between all of them soaking the atmosphere in. Thank you for sharing your precious time with us. I so enjoyed this post, my friend. Again I am baffled just HOW you do all you do!! Hope you are heading for the bar this Saturday, for you really deserve it especially this week!!! <3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really wasn’t much work Amy. It’s not like I hiked 7 miles ;) These are literally across the street from the State Buildings I shared two weeks ago. It probably took less than 30 min to get both sets of photos on a day my daughter and I were at the Big-E for a woodworking show. The research only required visiting two websites and watching nod video. The key was realizing in September that I could wait until January to get the photos.

      Thank you for your very kind words and your continued support.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sometimes I am a little slow……I’m reading your post and thinking what a cool thing she did. Then I’m thinking…what a great way and place to share history, especially since New England is so rich in it. Then my mind goes…I’d love to spend time in a place like that. I browse through your pictures and start thinking the buildings look familiar…still not registering….really familiar….finally the lights go on…I have been there and loved it. We were on a whirlwind tour of New England with some friends in 2012…our friend researched and mapped the entire trip out and this was one of the stops…oh the mind:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s fairly well hidden behind the crowd during the fair Deb. I’m looking forward to going back when it’s open in the summer. I knew the buildings were there, but I thought they were replicas. I was amazed to learn the story.

      Liked by 1 person

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