A visit to the Genesee Country Village, just south of
Rochester, New York in the quaint hamlet of Mumford, New York, is the perfect gift to yourself or your family this holiday season. It's where yuletides of the past come alive.
The village is frozen in the 19th century with a cluster of 68 historic structures - the largest in New York State. All buildings have architectural and historical significance and were moved from their original locations in 12 upstate New York counties. Each painstakingly restored and furnished with 20,000 artefacts of yesteryears.
As you enter the gates of the village you'll be surprised by the immense size of the place. A white wooden double-deck gazebo dominates a wide-open field that is the centre pierce on the "Great Meadow." A pioneer log cabin with barn and fields represents the earliest days of the settlement. The "Village Square" includes an insurance office, physician's and lawyer's offices, general store, town hall, post office and several homes each with their own story and memories. Other buildings are scattered on the outskirts of the village.
Admittance to take a self-guided walking tour between noon and 4pm is around $5.00 U.S. Guided tours of the festively decorated homes of the village offered are the first 3 weekends in December on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays. Prices for these tours in U.S. dollars; $22.00 for ages 17-61, $15.00 for ages 62 plus or students with valid I.D., $12.00 for ages 4-16, free for ages younger. A buffet supper is available from 4 to 8 pm
During this tour 11 of the historic buildings are open. As you stroll through the village you find examples of American life from 1800 to 1870. Dozens of "villagers" in period dress go about bringing the past to life. You can help them make a punched-tin ornament or watch a holiday decorating demonstration. It's a must that you're bundled up (remember layers of clothing are always the best) for a nostalgic horse-drawn wagon ride through the village. Chances are along the way you'll see St. Nicholas wandering about with his bag of toys over his shoulder. Two homes not to be missed are found near the back of the village opposite the Davis Opera House.
The 1870 Hyde House is an octagonal, wooden home moved from nearby Friendship, New York. Teenager, Maggie Emerson is dressed as a young lady of the time and meets us at the door. She explains that this was a popular design at the time built to improve circulation in the home. Original owners were Dr. and Mrs Hyde who were spiritualists and held séances in the home.
Right next door is the massive
1870's Hamilton House. It looks like it should be on an old-fashioned
After you've had your fill of the village, soak up more of the holiday spirit by visiting the Village of Mumford and nearby Caledonia (that's New York). The ultimate charm of both these villages is that the new co-exists with the old.
About a 10-minute drive away is Le Roy, New York where if you arrive on Monday, December 3rd you can enjoy Winterfest and the tastes of the holidays with a stroll through the village.
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, the Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.