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Old York Maine

Updated on May 31, 2013

My daughter's 3rd grade class had a field trip to Old York, Maine and I was one of the chaperones. They were learning about the Puritans, and York, Maine is one of New England's earliest colonial settlements.

The Museums of Old York include 9 historic buildings. They are open from June through Columbus Day Weekend, Monday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Visitors Center address is 3 Lindsay Road, on the corner of York Street (Route 1A).

Remick Barn Hearth Cooking
Remick Barn Hearth Cooking | Source

Remick Barn

The Remick Barn was originally built in 1834 in Eliot, Maine. The Remick family donated it to the museum in 2005. The structure was dismantled and rebuilt at Old York. The space is now used for educational programs and as an exhibit gallery. The first floor includes a functioning replica hearth.

While we were there the children were taught what a typical day was like for women and children in Puritan times. Mothers would spend about 12 hours a day in front of the hearth. Children would be given chores and expected to be quite self-sufficient by the age of 7. The focus of daily life was just survival, and large families were a necessity.

As a hands on experience for our school trip children made molasses and oatmeal cookies just as they would have in the 1800s. All ingredient amounts were estimated, and the cookies were baked on the hot coals of the hearth. They got to taste the fruits of their labor at the end of our day.

Jefferds' Tavern
Jefferds' Tavern | Source

Jefferds' Tavern

Jefferds' Tavern, first owned and operated by Captain Samuel Jefferds, was originally built in 1750 in Wells, Maine. It passed though many hands but was finally purchased by Miss Elizabeth Perkins who had it disassembled and reconstructed in York in 1941. Elizabeth Perkins was a founder of The Society for the Preservation of Historic Landmarks in York County, which later merged with two other local historical organizations to form the Old York Historical Society.

During our visit the children got to sit in the tap room and play some of the games children and adults would play such as spinning tops, cup & ball toys, and Nine Man Morris. Outside they played with hoops and stilts.

In a second room in Jefferds' Tavern children were taught about textiles. Most families in the area couldn't afford expensive imported fabrics and had to make their own clothes. This was very time consuming so each member of the family would have very few articles of clothing. Usually only one outfit for daily wear and one for Church. Since cotton can't grown in New England, the only materials they had available were wool and flax. The children were given a demonstration on how yarn and thread would be made. They got a chance to card some wool and use a drop spindle.

The Old School House
The Old School House | Source

Old Schoolhouse

This Old Schoolhouse was originally built in 1745 and was used as such for about a hundred years. It was replaced by a larger school building and was sold to a new owner who converted it into a house and later a shed. In 1935 Miss Elizabeth Perkins helped acquire the building for preservation. It was restored and opened to the public in 1936.

Today the Old Schoolhouse is used to teach children about education during the 18th century. In this single room, children from age 6 up to 18 would learn together. The youngest sat in the front, oldest in back. Students just learning to write would use chalk and slate tablets, once they mastered that they moved on to quill pens and ink. Their only school book was The New England Primer.

Our third graders got called to the door with a school bell and had to line up in two lines. Boys to one side, girls to the other. Girls entered first, and all of the children took a seat on a bench. They got to write on slate and flip through the New England Primer, and learn what a day was like for school children. They also walked around the room studying the walls, finding old graffiti that had been carved into the walls by students hundreds of years ago.

An Introduction to the Museums of Old York

The Houses, Jail (Gaol), Warehouse, and Store

The Remick Barn, Jefferds' Tavern, and the Old Schoolhouse were the three buildings that we got to tour during our field trip, but there is much more to the historic properties of York.

Elizabeth Perkins House
In 1686 a one room house with an end chimney was built here by a Timothy Yeales. Mary Sowles Perkins and her daughter Elizabeth purchased the the property in 1898 for $1300. From 1900 to 1935 Elizabeth and her mother added many additions and transformed their house into a version of a "colonial home". Elizabeth Perkins passed away in 1952 and the house has been preserved just as she left it.

Emerson-Wilcox House
Over the more than two hundred and fifty years of its history, the Emerson-Wilcox House has served as a general store, stage tavern, tailor shop, post office, home, and museum. Today it offers a series of twelve period room settings and two galleries spanning the period 1760-1935.

Ramsdell House
The newest addition to Old York's historic house museums, this is an ongoing restoration project. Parts of the house date back to the 1741. Originally two rooms around a central chimney, it is typical of the small quarters most families lived in during much of the town's early history.

Old Gaol
Having served as a prison from 1719-1860, the Old Gaol is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Along with cells and dungeons for debtors and felons, the building also housed the gaolkeeper and his family. Visitors today get to see cells, the gaoler's quarters, and a three room gallery of colonial relics.

John Hancock Warehouse
The John Hancock Warehouse, dating from the 1740s, is the only remaining commercial building from the Colonial period in York. John Hancock owned the property from 1791-1793. Today the Warehouse contains an exhibit on York's maritime heritage and commerce.

George Marshall Store
In 1867 George Marshall purchased the John Hancock Warehouse and surrounding land on the York River. He then built the George Marshall Store, where he sold general merchandise as well as wood, building materials, and coal. The building is now a contemporary art gallery with rotating exhibitions that feature some of the region's best artists.

Cost of Admission

$6 one building
$12 all buildings

Children Under 16
$3 one building
$5 all buildings

(Children Under 4 are Free)

$5 one building
$10 all buildings

Families (2 adults and one or more children in a family)
$15 one building
$25 all buildings

Group discounts are also available.
Call 207-363-4974 x12 for more information or to make reservations.

Parson Center, Museums of Old York:
3 Lindsay Road, York, ME 03909, USA

get directions

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    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 

      7 years ago from Michigan

      This sounds like a great field trip! Great for kids - it's always easier and more fun learning hands on. I remember the most from my education from the field trips we took. I'd love to go to York someday!


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