Sunday, June 14, 2009

Miller-Cory House (Westfield)

Today is flag day. What better way to start my journey than at a site that advertised a Betsy Ross demonstration. So, my wife Allison, daughter Daphne, and I headed up to Westfield to the Miller-Cory House. We also wanted to check out the Trader Joe's up there (we have none in Central Jersey), so it would be a two-fer.

The house is maintained by a local friend's association, as many of these home are. The main part of the house was built in 1740. While it doesn't seem to have played any significant role in the Revolutionary War effort, it did bear silent witness to the conflict. It is likely that British troops marched past the house as they decamped from the West Fields of Elizabethtown.

The tour, led by one of the friends, was interesting, if a bit hard to follow. The Betsy Ross "demonstration" (which we expected to be a flag sewing demonstration) was actually a "lecture" on flag making given by one of the officers of the friends association.

The house itself has some interesting details. A plastered ceiling in the sitting room, and exposed part of the inner wall showing the posts. The highlights for us, though, were outside the main house. What looks to be a 19th century shed has been modified with a fireplace for 18th century cooking demonstrations. We just missed the home-made ice-cream by the time we got out there, but the spice cookies were a sufficient substitute for my 6 year old.

In the basement of the main house is a large working loom (that someone was operating) and a number of other farm implements on display - although "display" is a loose term here. It was like looking through someone's attic. That was neat.

The house is in a residential neighborhood. It's hard to imagine all the sprawling farmland that would have surrounded this house when it was built.

The Miller-Cory House is an interesting place to visit if you're in the area. The house is open to the public on Sunday afternoons, although I was told they shut down in summer because the docents can't wear the 18th century costumes in the heat (imagine how the Millers and Corys must have felt).

Westfield has a pleasant downtown with nice restaurants. And Trader Joe's wasn't bad either.

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