Village was the vision of Roscoe William Smith,
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 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 Mr. Smith's most
cherished gift to the local community was Museum Village
of Old Smith's Clove. Mr. Smith 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, though
was in craft tools and mechanical devices: their invention,
adaptation and development which he realized were slowly
He would sometimes accept farm tools
or artifacts as forms of payment for electricity for
those who could not afford to pay. For over 40 years
Mr. Smith amassed a great collection and in 1940 he
began to construct his dream of a place to display the
artifacts and educate the visitor. Museum Village opened
its doors on July 1, 1950.
Today, more than 50 years later 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.
Museum Village has many exciting things
to do and see:
House - 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
Store - 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 collection
of old food packages, sewing notions, items of clothing
and hardware come from the original Merritt Store,
a family owned business. The store not only served
the local clientele but all the farmsteads in a 10-12
mile radius outside the village.
Store - 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, herbs, healthcare apparatuses, glasses,
tobacco or even a refreshing soda or ice cream.
Cabin - The log cabin that stands next to the
Vernon drugstore on the Museum's ground originally
stood just beyond the forest of Dean's Mine. The cabin
dates from the last quarter of the 18th century. Visitors
to the cabin will learn how a family of five lived
in a small one-room building.
Shop - In the first half of the 19th century,
most families, especially those living in the country,
fabricated their own thread, fabric and clothing by
hand. Thread was spun on spinning wheels, cloth was
woven on looms; shirts, pants and dresses were cut
from the homemade cloth and hand sewn. At the Museum
Village weave shop you can observe the old methods
of weaving fabric on a handloom and how the intricate
patterns were followed.
Shop - At the candle shop learn the process
of creating a candle and the difference in waxes used.
Then, try your hand at dipping your own candle to
take home. See an exhibition on the evolution of lighting
devices from the oil lamp to the electric light bulb.
Broom Shop - Learn
all about the history of the broom! From harvesting
broom straw to the hand made process. Brooms made
in the shop are available for sale.
- Blacksmith - The blacksmith was one of the most important people
in a village. From repairs to equipment and shoeing
horses learn more about this trade and the vital role
Shop - Situated next to the blacksmith shop
the wheelwright (wheel maker) worked closely together
to maintain wagons for the community.
Shop - The village printer kept everyone up
to date on the latest news locally and abroad. In
addition, job printing was important to provide local
business people with posters and pamphlets.
Shop - Watch a lump of clay turn into a useful
item right before your eyes. Learn what a typical
household used for plates and bowls in the nineteenth
Emporium - See a display of a selection of
dresses, hats, shoes and accessories from the museum's
extensive costume collection.
History Building - See a Mastodon skeleton
found locally in Orange County. Explore the natural
world of our area through rocks, minerals, fossils