Old Sturbridge Village
Opened in 1946, Old Sturbridge Village is the largest outdoor museum in the northeast, depicting rural life in the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum covers 200 acres and features 40 historic buildings. One of these buildings, the Oliver Wight House (built ca. 1780s), is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was remodeled into a tavern restaurant in 2006. The museum contains 50,000 artifacts spread out within its buildings which include a school, country store, bank, working farm, mills, trade shops, and homes. Hearth cooking classes and authentic dining experiences are offered to help immerse visitors in the past.
One of the three mills at the village
The village features a working farm. Image by C. Phillip Houck, 2011.
The Oliver Wight Tavern
Backstory and Context
The museum was first founded as the Wells Historical Museum in 1935 by the member of the Wells family, who owned the American Optical Company in Southbridge. The family wanted to preserve rural agricultural New England history and began collecting items for this purpose. They expanded their idea to build an outdoor museum to depict an agricultural town and opened the village in 1946 with thirteen buildings. Some items they collected include early lighting devices, woodenware, and scientific instruments.
History of Old Sturbridge Village, Old Sturbridge website, accessed 8/24/17 https://www.osv.org/about-us