1750 Ogden House open for tours on Sundays

Looking for a unique Sunday outing? Take a trip back in time with a docent-led tour of the 1750 Ogden House furnished with period objects, textiles and fine furniture, then stroll through the Colonial kitchen garden featuring plantings used in colonial times.

The 1750 Ogden House is located at 1520 Bronson Road in Fairfield and is open Sundays, June through September, from 1-4 p.m. Admission is $3 and Fairfield Museum members are free.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and curated by the Fairfield Museum and History Center, the 1750 Ogden House is an exceptional survivor of a typical mid-18th century farmhouse and provides a glimpse into the life of a middle-class colonial family. This saltbox house was built in 1750 for David Ogden at the time of his marriage to Jane Sturges. For the next 125 years it was home for the Ogden family in the farming and coastal shipping town of Fairfield.

Family documents and inventories have been carefully examined to furnish the house appropriately with objects including textiles and fine pieces of furniture from the Fairfield Museum’s Collections. Once surrounded by nearly 75 acres of farmland and several outbuildings, the Ogden House stands next to Brown’s Brook in the fertile Mill River Valley.

Since 1935 the Ogden House Garden, an 18th century style kitchen garden, has been planned, planted and generously maintained by the Fairfield Garden Club (fairfieldgardenclub.org), an affiliate of The Garden Club of America. The garden, located behind the house, features raised beds, walkways of crushed sea shells with plants and herbs typical of those used at the time.

About the Colonial Kitchen Garden

The colonial family’s survival during the winter depended a great deal on the culinary, household and medicinal produce of the summer kitchen garden. This serious work was managed by the housewife and helped by children and servants, if she had them. For more than six months of the year, the garden took priority over other domestic chores and required a good deal of time to support the average family.

Raised rectangular beds made the most of the space and allowed the soil to dry out quickly in early spring, providing a longer growing season. The bed pattern of a rural kitchen garden was not necessarily symmetrical or regularly patterned. There was no particular order, tall plants might obscure short plants, and flowers were mixed with vegetables and among them, herbs. The path between the raised beds would be made of straw, stones, or oyster shells.

In Connecticut, the garden year began in early April. As the ground around the Ogden House Garden began to thaw the barnyard dung was worked in where it had been laid the previous fall. Seeds of cool weather crops such as lettuce, spinach, radishes, parsnips and turnips were sown. As the days grew warmer weeding became a daily chore. At the end of May, melon, squash, and cucumbers were planted in well-manured hills. Jane Ogden and her daughters began to preserve food for the winter at the end of June; this went on through the fall.

The children were responsible for removing the weeds. They also fended off the barnyard animals, rabbits, birds, and woodchucks and picked insects, snails and slugs off the plants.

After the last harvest in the fall, the soil was turned, ashes from the hearth were spread on the top, and barnyard manure was spread thickly over the vegetable beds. After these chores were completed, Jane Ogden closed the garden gate for the winter and turned her attention to her other work.

Beekeeping in the Colonies

The straw bee skeps in the Ogden kitchen garden represent the importance of beekeeping in the colonies. Apple trees and honeybees (Apis mellifera), used to pollinate the trees, were brought across the Atlantic in the early 1600s so the settlers could make cider. Cider and rum from the West Indies were the two sources of drink as water was considered not potable.

In Colonial times, honey was used for medicinal, culinary and household purposes. Medicinally it was used in combination with many herbs and was solely applied to open wounds to prevent infection. An important sweetener, it was also an instant energy source and as a preservative for ham and fruits. Beeswax was used for waterproofing leather, binding wounds and making candles. Honey and beeswax were so valuable; they were often used in place of hard-to-find currency in very rural towns.

About Fairfield Museum and History Center

Fairfield Museum and History Center is a community cultural arts and education center established in 2007 by the 103-year old Fairfield Historical Society. The 13,000 square-foot museum, inspired architecturally by the historic warehouses along Southport harbor, includes modern galleries, a research library, a museum shop and community spaces overlooking Fairfield’s Town Green. The Fairfield Museum and History Center believes in the power of history to inspire the imagination, stimulate thought and transform society.

Located at 370 Beach Road in Fairfield, CT, the Museum is open seven days a week. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors. Members of the Museum and children 5 and under are free.

For more information, call 203-259-1598 or visit www.FairfieldHistory.org.

1750 Ogden House

1750 Ogden House (all photos by Stacy Bass).

Ogden House Colonial Garden

Ogden House Colonial Garden

Beekeeping at the Ogden House.

Beekeeping at the Ogden House.

Foxglove flowers in the Colonial Garden.

Foxglove flowers in the Colonial Garden.

About author

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© HAN Network. All rights reserved. Fairfield Sun, 1000 Bridgeport Avenue, Shelton, CT 06484

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress