Museum Village was the vision of Roscoe William Smith (1877-1976), an electrical engineer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and collector who contributed to his native Orange County in many ways during his 99 years. Roscoe made his fortune as the founder of the Orange and Rockland electric company in 1905. The wealth he generated from his successful company and investments allowed him to give back to the community in many ways. Probably Roscoe’s most cherished gift to the local community was Museum Village of Old Smith’s Clove. Roscoe was passionate about American history and was an avid collector of Americana. His collection varied widely, from textiles and porcelain items to horse-drawn carriages. His main interest was in craft tools and mechanical devices: their invention, adaptation, and development which he realized were slowly disappearing.
He would sometimes accept farm tools or artifacts as forms of payment for electricity. For over 40 years Roscoe amassed a great collection. In 1940 he began to display the artifacts and educate visitors. Museum Village opened its doors on July 1, 1950.
Today, Museum Village still pursues its founder’s vision of educating generations of Americans about the work and life of their ancestors. Through educational programs, hands-on-exhibits and special events Museum Village is dedicated to exploring and interpreting 19th-century rural life as well as inspiring an appreciation for the evolution of industry and technology in America.