Delaware News

Gallant Farm Preserve recalls bygone era

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The kids are gathered around a console radio in the living room, laughing along to a variety show, while Dad reclines in the parlor to read the newspaper, pipe in hand.

Faded portraits of relatives hang above the mantel, and from the kitchen comes the sweet aroma of blackberry pie as Mom pulls it fresh from the oven.

Preservation Parks officials hope to hark back to yesteryear at Gallant Farm Preserve, a re-created Depression-era farmstead that opens this month at 2150 Buttermilk Hill Road in Delaware. The farmstead, built and maintained by Preservation Parks of Delaware County, features a farm house, granary, implement shed, fishing pond and more.

Preservation Parks will hold a grand-opening event from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, with educational tours, activities, cookies and cider, and live farm animals.

The farmstead will be open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday year-round, hosting educational programming and school field trips. Residents can stop by during those hours to see the house or schedule a group tour.

The farm's facilities straddle the line between the 1930s and '40s, when many farmers were adopting motorized tractors and electricity had become mainstream, said Preservation Parks Director Rita Au.

"It showcases the two major decades with major things going on: the Depression and World War II," Au said.

"There are still people alive that know this era," she said. "In fact, one of our donors came last week and she almost started crying. She said it looked just like her grandmother's kitchen."

The historically accurate one-story house was built from the ground up in the past year.

Organizers call the farm a "living history" museum because its utilities are restored and ready for use. Visitors may use the wood-burning stove to bake cookies from scratch; can tomatoes, squash and pumpkin to store in the cellar; and husk and shell corn using tools from the era, among other chores.

They also may participate in programming opportunities such as Family Night, during which parents and children can spend an evening as a family from the 1930s.

"They'd play games, listen to the radio or put puzzles together. The mom would be sewing or knitting, and the dad would be reading the almanac or studying the stock prices in the newspaper," said Sue Hagan, communications manager for Preservation Parks.

"Some nights they might make popcorn or sing. It's just old-fashioned family stuff they did before there was TV to occupy all your time."

A handmade checkerboard sits atop a table in the living room, and an old copy of the Sears Roebuck catalog is ready to browse on the coffee table.

Antique Victorian furniture lines the walls in the parlor, which features a working Victrola phonograph as its centerpiece. On an end table rests a yearbook from 1935 in which curious visitors can find the face of Charlotte Gallant, the farmstead's namesake, who donated the 19-acre plot to Preservation Parks.

In the side yard is a vegetable patch, tool shed and an iconic outhouse, which is just for show -- the house itself has a fully functional bathroom.

Nearby is the large granary. Historically, it would have been used to store animal feed, but today the building will be used as a classroom and indoor activity space.

A large implement shed will house farm machinery, including a tractor and seed sifter, as well as an antique Ford sedan. A barn and chicken house might be added in the future.

Across the street is Gallant Woods Preserve, a park with miles of walking trails

Upcoming programming will include pie baking, knitting and a program in which children will learn about games and amusements from the era, from hopscotch to kick the can. Educational programming about the Great Depression and World War II also will be hosted at the farmstead.

A complete programming schedule will be available at Preservation Parks' website, preservationparks.com.

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