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Old Sturbridge Village, Exhibition Opens
September 11, 2021 - September 12, 2021
New exhibition opens September 11th
Inspired by the Village’s 75th-anniversary theme of celebration and Jane Nylander’s research and forthcoming publication, the new exhibit New England on Parade will examine the history of parades and parade traditions in New England from 1776 to 1940. The exhibit will be housed in multiple buildings throughout the Old Sturbridge Village campus and will highlight the ways in which parades brought communities together for public celebrations and commemorations, while also addressing how parades were used to generate support for social and political causes. Come learn more about the origins of this favorite New England tradition!
The gallery in the Visitor Center will reflect the typical processional order of a 19th-century New England parade: VIPs, militia units, brass units, firemen, tradesmen, children, and women. After entering through a triumphal arch, visitors will find objects such as the 1845 pump engine “VETO,” watercolors by James Head, outfits worn by women and children in parades, and pictures of past parades at the Village. Two Maine Charitable Mechanic Association banners from 1841, on loan from the Maine Historical Society, will also be on display. This space will also include information about the difficult history of Antiques and Horribles parades in New England.
In the Countryside Gallery, guests can explore the ways in which parades have been used to advocate for political and social causes. The space will feature sections devoted to temperance parades, suffrage parades, fraternal groups (like the Freemasons), and political parades. A highlight in this part of the exhibition is a reproduction of an Old Oaken Bucket float, a staple of 19th-century temperance parades.
In the existing Armed & Equipped gallery on Gallery row, guests will find a series of supplementary panels that will explore themes related to militia involvement in parades and celebrations.
New England on Parade will be on display through July 2023.
75 years later…. a hobby turned in to a village. On June 8, in 1946, Old Sturbridge Village opened to the public for the first time. 81 people paid a dollar apiece to tour the grounds and see displays of antiques arranged in the new and restored old buildings, including the Fitch House, Grist Mill, Richardson House and Gebhardt barn (now called the Parsonage and Parsonage Barn), the Miner Grant Store, Dennison Schoolhouse (now the Child’s World exhibit), Firearms exhibit, Shoe Shop and more, including a sawmill and blacksmith shop (but not the ones standing today). The Village Inn (now the Bullard Tavern) was under construction, but many now-familiar exhibits, including the Center Meetinghouse, Towne and Fenno houses, Freeman Farm, Thompson Bank and Covered Bridge were not yet here. Over 5,000 more guests visited that first summer and fall. Almost constant growth marked the Village’s early years, as more exhibits were added and more visitors came to see them. Read more about Village history here.