Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Visiting a Local Museum...



My son and I recently got to tour a local historical mansion, The Fenton History Center and Museum. Granted, this is not a place people would travel hundreds of miles to see, but if you live in our area, it is somewhere you'd want to check out. Also, since our town is the birth place of the beloved comedian Lucille Ball, there is a lot of Lucy memorabilia at Fenton as well. Jamestown actually has a Lucy and Desi Museum, located not very far from Fenton, dedicated strictly to the iconic comedian. This is another place I would like to visit, seeing as thousands do come from all over to visit.

However, The Fenton Museum is rich in historical artifacts and information. The over 12,000 square foot building, was designed by a local architect by the name Aaron Hall in 1863. The home was built for the Fenton family. Reuben Fenton was a U.S. Congressman from 1853-1864, N.Y. State Governor from 1865-1869, and then a U.S. Senator from 1869-1875. Reuben, his wife, Elizabeth, and their three children lived at this location for many years. Although this specific family lived in this mansion, the tour focuses only partially on them. A lot of Western New York history is highlighted as well.

One the first floor, you take a step back in time when you enter The Drawing Room. It showcases the Victorian décor of the Renaissance Revival Period of 1860-1890. This is the room where the family would entertain guests and the "laying out" of the dead would take place in this room, in lieu of modern day funerals we have today. There is an example of a woman's dress from this time period as well. The hand painted details, furniture, and even the chandelier in this room were very exquisite.




On the second level, there is a lot on the history of the village of Celoron, New York (located right outside of Jamestown), where there was an amusement park from 1893 to 1962. At one point, this amusement park actually had the biggest ferris wheel around. There is still a park there, now known as the Lucille Ball Memorial Park, and actually her childhood home, located on "Lucy Lane" is located only a few blocks from the park.


On the third floor, they have what they refer to as the Nanny's Room. This is often where well to do families would have their children stay, in the care of a live-in nanny. There are old beds, strollers, and even a child's potty chair, all giving you a good idea of what life was like in the 1800's. There was an extensive display of old children's toys..dolls, board games, train sets, you name it. There is also a tower that can be reached by a set of small, winding stairs. The view of the city from up there was pretty impressive.




The last part of the tour was the basement, where they had a lot of old tools and other items people worked with. Seeing what the woman used to wash clothes by hand sure does make me happy that I live in this era! Also in the basement was a whole display of underground railroad information. Apparently, Chautauqua County had a bit of activity during that time. A section of the basement was named the "Swedish  Room". Jamestown had a lot of Swedish settlers during the 1800's, some of my ancestors actually. I found it interesting to see some Swedish furniture, dishes, toys, and tools.

Alexander and I enjoyed the tour and probably spent a couple hours checking everything out. You might think a six year old would find it boring, but he actually was very interesting in a lot of what we saw. Of course, seeing as there were three pianos in the house (something my son loves!) helped a bit to keep him intrigued and excited. He even mentioned that he'd like to go back again someday!

(Review Disclaimer; I was not paid for my review of the Fenton Museum. We had free tickets to take the tour, but there was no monetary compensation and everything written are my personal feelings.)





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