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Museum Village

Museum 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 disappearing.

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:

  • School 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 farms.
  • General 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.
  • Drug 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.
  • Log 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.
  • Weave 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.
  • Candle 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 it played.
  • Wagon Shop - Situated next to the blacksmith shop the wheelwright (wheel maker) worked closely together to maintain wagons for the community.
  • Print 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.
  • Pottery 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 century.
  • Dress Emporium - See a display of a selection of dresses, hats, shoes and accessories from the museum's extensive costume collection.
  • Natural History Building - See a Mastodon skeleton found locally in Orange County. Explore the natural world of our area through rocks, minerals, fossils and animals.
Specifics on visiting the Museum Village were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
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