Rise and shine on a crisp December morning.
Radiant-heated floors bring warmth to feet and body. Outside it's 20 degrees. I descend the stairway to the kitchen where a cup of hot coffee prepared by a programmable coffeemaker is ready and waiting. Frozen waffles are quickly warmed for a satisfying start to the day. After a hot shower, I dress in clothing purchased online and delivered to my doorstep. Ready for the day, I hop in the car-heated seat making for a comfy drive to work. Along the way, I get behind a school bus that stops at each driveway to pick up young passengers, who gaze, seemingly entranced, at handheld electronics-texting, gaming, perhaps just browsing. And so the day begins.
I stop and ponder. What if I could step back in time? Well, that's another story.
In 1956, the Nettle Hill schoolhouse made a slow and arduous four-mile journey to its new home at the Yorker Museum. It traveled in two sections by lowboy and now depicts school life circa 1860.
The Peter Ripley House, once located on Miller Street in Sherman, was moved to the Village in the Village in 1950. It is the oldest frame building in the village of Sherman and the Yorker Museum’s first acquisition. It depicts early frontier family life circa 1830.
The spinning wheel was an important tool and one of many steps required for garment making in early times. Here, an open fireplace in the log dwelling provides warmth for the spinner. The log dwelling, which was built during the French and Indian War, was moved to the museum site and is now furnished as a pioneer home circa 1800.
The interior of the Nettle Hill schoolhouse is furnished with “a school marm’s desk,” a piano, student desks and thousands of old books.
Rise and shine on a crisp December morning.
Bundle up to go outside to gather wood - need to stoke the fire to take the penetrating chill from the room and begin preparations for a hearty breakfast. I'll use the staples - cornmeal and sugar purchased at the general store - to make some Johnnycakes. No bath today - that's reserved for Sunday. I'm chilly in my homespun dress, which I made last summer from a bolt of fabric purchased, like the kitchen staples, at the general store. I'm diverted from my morning chores by the sound of children making their way to school, laughing and horsing around. It's a long trek, but the shared company belies the distance.
Can you imagine living long ago?
A visit to the Yorker Museum in Sherman offers a glimpse at life in another era. Birthed in 1949 through the efforts and enthusiasm of five female students under the guidance of seventh-grade social studies teacher Genevieve Matteson, the museum grew from a small collection of colonial memorabilia from local families to include a compound of buildings, six of which were relocated to the Sherman village common beginning in 1950, and two others built on site in 1979.
The Peter Ripley House, Nettle Hill School House, a buggy shed, a log structure known as the Log Dwelling, the Ray Larson General Store, the chapel, a gazebo and a meetinghouse comprise the Village in the Village complex. An extensive collection of artifacts and furnishings allow visitors to experience and explore an authentic look at life long ago.
Beginning with the original Yorker Society (established in 1950), the Yorker Museum has enjoyed the labor, dedication, enthusiasm and support of countless individuals, groups, and agencies. The village of Sherman has held ownership of the buildings and property since the dissolution of the Yorker Society in 1998. Under provisions of an agreement between the village and the Sherman Historical Society, the Society operates, markets and spearheads fundraising efforts with the common mission to impact the future by exploring the past in a ''Village in the Village'' setting that is slated to become a major tourist attraction in Chautauqua County.
As part of its efforts to ensure long-term preservation of the Yorker Museum and to achieve its mission, the Sherman Historical Society has established the French Creek Yorker Museum Fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. This non-endowment fund serves as a depository for tax-deductible donations for use in the preservation and restoration of museum buildings. Non-endowment funds can distribute the full amount of a gift to support current/immediate needs.
And now, for the rest of the story.
Flat tire on the way to work, returned home to a broken water heater, and a new roof is on the list of projects for the spring.
The buildings at the Yorker Museum are in dire need of repairs and restoration from foundations to the rafters. Love and attention is needed all around. Some things never change.
How can you help?
Your donation to the French Creek Yorker Museum Fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation will allow the Sherman Historical Society to move forward with important restoration and preservation projects required to preserve this unique and educational gem.
Who knows, if they ever add a boarding house to the complex, it just might be the place to stay. For a little while, anyway. Donors may get first dibs.
The French Creek Yorker Museum is located in Sherman at the corner of Park and Church streets. It's open Memorial Day through Labor Day, Saturdays and Sundays between 1 and 4 p.m., or by appointment anytime. For more information, call 761-6503, 761-7767 or 761-6340.
The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization that serves to benefit Chautauqua County through grant and scholarship funding. With a mission to enrich the quality of life in the Chautauqua region, the CRCF has been a trusted investment partner since 1978. For more information, call 661-3390. Donations can be made online at crcfonline.org.