Welcome to a virtual tour of our grounds and buildings. We hope that you will be enticed to come visit us and see all of our buildings and artifacts in person.
The Village Green
Bring a picnic blanket and pack a lunch so you can take in all the sights and sounds at Museum Village. Please note we do have free range chickens and guinea hens on the property. They are social and friendly, but we ask that you do not feed them people food and pick up all trash. We also ask that children do not chase the animals.
We have museum staff working in the office at the Visitors Center and we are always here ready to assist with your needs or questions. Feel free to stop by and see us!
The purpose of the Museum Gift Shop is two-fold. The first is to bring entertainment and educational value to your visit. The items in the shop reflect the Museum’s mission and houses many artifacts from the Museum’s extensive collection and an important one, is to provide funding for the educational programs that the Museum offers. Schools should let museum staff know ahead of their field trip, whether or not they would like the Gift Shop open for students. Museum members receive a 10% discount on purchases.
This building changes exhibits a few times throughout the season and is intended to display some of our unique artifacts.
The Blacksmith was one of the most important people in a village, repairing equipment and making tools, horseshoes and other items necessary in a farming community. The Blacksmith forged iron into whatever was needed, from nails to plows to skillets. In order to create the different pieces, the Blacksmith needed to soften the metal with intense heat. He used a forge to do so, which is an open fireplace equipped with a fan or bellows to control a stream of air going into the fire. The combination of the charcoal or coal and a draft made the fire hot enough to melt the iron.
The wagon maker was part carpenter and part wheelwright. Wheelwrighting was a specialized trade, demanding the use of different types of woods base on their strength. Situated next to the blacksmith shop, the wheelwright worked closely together with the blacksmith to maintain wagons for the community. Travel increased dramatically in the 19th century as immigrants came to the country and with others headed west.
In the 19th century, autumn was butchering time on the farm and waste was not an option, so farmers used every part of the animal. The tallow (melted down fat from an animal such as a sheep or cow) was used to create the wax of the candle, while cotton or linen string were used for the candle wicks. Stop by our candle shop to learn the process of creating a candles and the different materials used to make them. Then, try your hand at dipping your own candle to take home. See an exhibit on the evolution of lighting devices from the oil lamp to the electric light bulb.
The Museum Village schoolhouse is a replica of the Monroe Stone Schoolhouse built in 1805. Like most 19th century rural schoolhouses, the Monroe school was a simple one-room building. Students of all grades and ages sat together and learned arithmetic, spelling and writing. The school year lasted only 12 weeks from Thanksgiving to early spring because most of the children from the area worked on family farms.
In this exhibit are many kinds of vehicles for various purposes. Which vehicle would you use for a horse race, for getting around in the snow, or to transport the deceased? Wagons might have had changeable parts to be able to use in the snow (runners) and then in the nicer weather (wheels). The second carriage on the left belonged to the Harriman Estate. The 4th carriage on the left was a sled that belonged to President McKinley at one time. Also, be sure to look for legendary race horse Hambiltonians’ grave stone.
Before the invention of plastic, brooms were made out of a plant called broom corn. It has long, stiff bristles that was perfect for sweeping wooden or stone floors. Outdoor brooms we also made of twigs and branches to keep the yard clear. Visitors will learn the process of broom making from sorting the broom corn to the hand-made finished product. Brooms and broom products made in on site are also available for sale in our Gift Shop.
Although the interior of the barn is not accessible to the public, Museum visitors may find animals outside the barn that may have been kept during the 19th Century. The windmill around the back of the barn was used to pump up water from deep ground wells. Visit with goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys and guinea hens. All are friendly and sometimes we even have new baby chicks! We just ask visitors be kind to our animals and please don’t chase them.
The J.C. Merritt Store at Museum Village is named after a similar store, owned and operated by John Carlton Merritt from 1875 to 1924. The store not only served the local clientele but all the farmsteads in a 10-12 mile radius outside the village. Here you will find a collection of old food packages, sewing notions, school supplies, gunpowder, items of clothing, kitchen tools and hardware. Many general stores in the used the barter system or traded goods, but by the end of the 19th century purchasing was done almost entirely in cash or credit.
Walking into the Farm Tools building, you will first notice the large pillars of American Chestnut trees. These trees all died from an infestation of a fungus from Asia that swept through the forests of the Eastern United States in the early 20th century, obliterating the American Chestnut. In the 1930’s, Roscoe Smith collected these specimens from Orange, Rockland and Westchester Counties to create a memorial to them and a reminder that they were the wood used to build many American barns, trim windows and doors. The innovative tools in this building were used in the 18th & 19th centuries by farmers to help make work easier. Not only were these tools used for planting and harvesting, but also for repairing shingles on roofs and patching holes in buildings, ensuring the family was safe and sound.
In the first half of the 19th century, yarn was spun on spinning wheels and cloth was woven on looms. Shirts, pants and dresses were then cut from the homemade cloth and hand sewn. At the Museum Village weave shop you can learn about the old methods of weaving fabric on a handloom, how fabric was naturally dyed and how the intricate patterns were followed.
Job printing was important to provide local people with all kinds of print such as newspapers, books, contracts, posters, pamphlets, invitations and announcements. The printer used letters and numbers of various sizes, called type. These were carved from wood or made of metal. Ink was a mixture of boiled linseed oil and lampblack, which is the fine soot that results from the incomplete combustion of oil. Here you can learn and watch a printing demonstration on a hand-operated printing press.
Salt Box House
The design of this house, with two stories in front, and one behind and long sloping roof is called a saltbox. The name refers to the slant-lid boxes used to store salt in homes. The saltbox at Museum Village originally was a corn crib for a nearby farmer. Saltbox construction was an inexpensive addition to a barn. Considered a lean-to, it required less time and fewer materials than a regular addition but allowed just as much space. Currently, this house is being used by the Mid-Hudson Woodcarvers Guild as a home base.
Look for the leather buckets. What do you suppose they were used for? In the 19th century, households had a leather fire bucket hanging near the front door. When the fire bell rang (located outside of our firehouse-large round red) villagers grabbed their buckets and formed a line between the fire and the closest lake, river or stream. They filled their buckets with water and passed them along the line from hand to hand. The last person in line splashed the water on the fire, and then sent the empty bucket back the way it came to be refilled. This line was known as the ‘bucket brigade’.
Natural History Building
Here you will find items that were part of the natural world, such as butterflies, fossils, rocks and preserved animals. Our most famous piece in this building is Harry. He is 1 of 3 complete specimens of the mastodon IN THE WORLD! It was unearthed just a few miles down the road in Harriman NY in 1952. You’ll even see pictures of the excavation of Harry. Mastodons lived in the United States 12,000 years ago, so make sure you don’t miss this exhibit. This Natural History building is arranged to resemble an old-fashioned museum, or ‘cabinet of curiosities’.
The log cabin that stands next to the Vernon Drugstore on the Museum’s grounds originally stood just beyond the forest of Dean’s Mine (halfway between Central Valley and Highland Falls, New York). The cabin dates from the last quarter of the 18th century, after the Revolutionary War. During World War II, the U.S. government purchased much of the forest the log cabin stood in for training purposes and sold it to civilians after the war. It was later purchased by the museum, dismantled and reassembled at its current location. Visitors to the cabin learn how a family of five lived in a small, one-room building.
The museum’s exhibit of the Vernon Drugstore features the authentic content, fixtures and furnishings of Charles Vernon’s store, originally located in the nearby village of Florida. In the 19th century, most of New York’s rural communities had a drugstore where the local residents could buy medicines of all kinds and come together for social gatherings. Herbs, healthcare apparatuses, eyeglasses, tobacco, and even refreshing soda and ice cream were available here. The pharmacist was not only a doctor for people, but also a veterinarian.
Pottery and ceramics we an important part of 19th century living. Primarily used for cooking, food storage and dishes, glazed pottery was waterproof and a good conductor of heat. Ceramics were also used as commercial containers for things such as medicine or even liquid batteries. Stoneware was often made from clay with high silica and flint content. Potteries were often located near streams, rivers or other places with large clay deposits.
The Energy Building contains some of the largest and most unusual artifacts in Museum Village. Here you can see the evolution of technology that forever changed the 19th century. Learn about inventions and advancements of the things such as the telegraph, artificial lighting, elevators and gasoline engines.
The Playhouse is occupied by the Creative Theatre-Muddy Water Players. Visit their website to find out what shows are playing and to purchase tickets: www.ctmwp.org
You can also call the box office at 845-294-9465
Our Snack Bar is an indoor/outdoor picnic area that provides snacks, drinks and light meals. Visitors are also welcome to bring their own food. School groups should let museum staff know ahead of their scheduled visit whether or not they require the Snack Bar to be open.