The Fairfield Museum and History Center takes you on an exciting journey way back in time. Travel back to experience what life was like in Connecticut nearly 400 years ago. What type of people lived in the area we now call Fairfield County? How did the choices they made get us to where we are today? Let’s dive right In.
Celebrating Community: Exploring 375 Years of Our Past Exhibit
There was no Southwestern Connecticut 400 years ago. The area was all Native American villages. Parts of what we now call Fairfield County was once home to the Paugussetts. The name supposedly means “where the river widens out”. The Paugussetts lived in houses called wigwams. I’m standing next to a model of one below.
I learned at the museum that there were four main bands of the Paugusetts. The Pequannocks occupied what is now known as Bridgeport, CT. The Sasquas lived in what is now Southport, CT. What is now Fairfield, CT was home to the Uncowas. Finally, the Maxumux inhabited what is now Westport, CT. Lots of artifacts tell the story of those who lived here before colonization.
Next, learn about the colony that was formed. You see examples of how the English built their homes. There are examples of items such as doors and other housing materials.
Another time period discussed was the 1700s and how farmers found markets for their goods in the West Indies, New York and Boston. This exchange of goods and services led to wealth increasing in Fairfield.
We always think of enslaved people living in the southern states and don’t ever picture something like that existing in Connecticut. There’s an exhibit that talks about two enslaved men from Fairfield and how they fought for their freedom and petitioned for an end to slavery. In 1784 Connecticut passed a measure which would gradually bring an end to slavery in the state.
Each artifact takes you to a different time period and shows you life in Fairfield and that of nearby towns. Look at the photos below to see tea kettles and a sewing machine.
No one visits Connecticut without going to the beach. Visiting the beach just a hundred years ago was very different from what we experience now. Look at the swimsuits (below) that were common in the 1920s. Swimsuits weren’t the only fashion on display at the Fairfield Museum. (“Creating Community: Exploring 375 Years of Our Past” is a permanent exhibit.)
Floral Expressions: 200 Years of Women’s Power Through Fashion Exhibit
The Floral Expressions exhibit showcases 200 years of women’s fashion. Look at the images below and experience all the different styles that were popular. Go from the Gilded Age in the 1800s all the way down to what housewives wore in the 1950s and 60s.
It was a very exciting exhibit. Don’t think that I showed you all the outfits. Come to the museum and check out the rest for yourself. (The “Floral Expressions: 200 Years of Women’s Power Through Fashion” exhibit is on display until October 10, 2021.)
Fairfield Historic Town Green
The last exhibit we’ll talk about is a permanent exhibit at the Fairfield Museum. This exhibit is made up of buildings so it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. I’m referring to Fairfield Historic Town Green. It showcases the Sun Tavern, Victorian cottage and barn among other buildings.
Below is the Sun Tavern. There’s a sign that says it was built by Samuel Penfield in 1783. The sign also says that this is where President George Washington supposedly spent one night on October 16th 1789.
Other buildings on the property include the Fairfield Academy School (below), the Burr mansion and the Old Town Hall. That’s not even naming all of them. You’ll definitely want to come down and visit.
I really appreciate the hands-on aspect of this museum. There are a lot of activities for children. Children can look inside the Native American wigwam. They can climb an American Revolution fort. They’re even fabric swatches in the women’s fashion exhibit so they can feel the dress fabric without touching the actual dresses.
Exhibits change throughout the year. The Fairfield Museum definitely has something for every member of the family. And if you’re like me and don’t have children, you will enjoy it as well. It’s another gem located in Fairfield County, Connecticut.