Rita Ownby Holcomb Author

Bringing my ancestors to life.

Fenimore Farmers Museum

This was my first experience with a living history museum. Back in the early 80s we took a trip to Cooperstown, New York for the express purpose of visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame and stumbled over this place.

While the highlight of the trip for my husband and son was the Hall of Fame, I was enthralled with the entire experience of stepping back in time and living history.

I was hooked and planned future trips around the same type of museums in general.

The site of The Farmers’ Museum has deep roots in New York State’s rural past. The land has been part of a working farm since 1813, when it was owned by James Fenimore Cooper. Judge Samuel Nelson, whose office is part of The Farmers’ Museum Village, bought the farm in 1829 and raised sheep. Fenimore Farm, as it came to be known, changed hands again in the 1870s, when it was acquired by the Clark family.

In 1918, Edward Severin Clark built a showcase complex at Fenimore Farm for his prize herd of cattle. The barn, creamery, and herdsman’s cottage designed by architect Frank Whiting in the Colonial Revival style and constructed of local stone still stand today and are an integral part of the museum. Today, they house museum offices, exhibition spaces, and public areas. The structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Farmers’ Museum opened its doors to the public in 1944. At that time, the museum had 5,000 tools and objects, including important collections amassed by the Otsego County Historical Society; William B. Sprague, founder of the Early American Industries Association; and the Wyckoff family, one of Brooklyn’s oldest farming families. Today the museum’s collections number more than 23,000 artifacts.

The Farmers’ Museum is a private, non-governmental educational organization. It is closely affiliated with its sister organization, Fenimore Art Museum.

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