Ideas

A Colonial Revival Vision

The Street, Deerfield, Massachusetts

© Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association

The Street, Deerfield, Massachusetts

Albumen print, c. 1870.

Finding 'Old Deerfield'

Deerfield, Massachusetts' now famous heritage appeal was neither accidental, nor inevitable. In 1881, a journalist for the Greenfield Gazette and Courier recalled the response of a 'young wag' who was asked where one might find the old Deerfield cemetery. "Take any direction you please sir;" he stated, "the entire village is a cemetery."1 There was some truth to the youth's comment. Population along the town's oldest one mile strip, referred to by locals as the Street, had steadily declined and aged since the mid-nineteenth century. Deerfield's youngest residents tended to move away in search of opportunity, and the oftentimes female residents of the Street grew increasingly dependent upon Eastern European immigrant labor to maintain their farms. All of this being said, the journalist did not agree with the sentiment of the youth's quip and believed, rather, that "there is, after all quite a prospect for Old Deerfield...soon we will have a splendid hotel and a number of summer boarders...After death comes resurrection."2 The beginnings of 'old Deerfield' are firmly rooted in the Colonial Revival movement, and resulted from the myriad efforts and initiatives of the town's residents to elevate and capitalize upon Deerfield's significance to the history of the United States.

  1. Greenfield Gazette and Courier May 1881.
  2. Ibid.