© Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association
House of Justin Hitchcock, built 1778-79, by the Allen Sisters, c. 1900
Beginning in 1905, the Deerfield Basket Makers offered their work for sale on a spot which had long been associated with craftsmen and craftswomen. Prior to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the weaver Elizabeth Amsden owned a shop on this land. Her home and shop burned to the ground in early 1768. At the time of the Revolutionary War, hat-maker Justin Hitchcock purchased the property and built a house on the lot. In October of 1780, Justin moved a building to his property for use as a Hatters' Shop. Following his father's death, the saddler Henry Hitchcock lived here.1
Eleanor B. Stebbins and her husband Benjamin Zebina Stebbins purchased the Justin Hitchcock house and property in 1904. In a shop located in her home, Eleanor sold the creations of the Deerfield Basket Makers. The shop was a "realm," according to one reviewer, "of baskets no larger than a silver dollar made of southern pine needles and linen thread to huge willow baskets which would hold a fireplace log."2 Deerfield Baskets were constructed from a variety of materials including: reed, palm leaf, willow withes, and Georgia pine needles. The raffia, grass and cornhusk baskets made by Deerfield's other basketry group, the Pocumtuck Basket Makers, could be found at the Red Shop, located on the northern end of the Street.