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Open house at Rice Homestead

Bob Suits, president of the Mayfield Historical Society, points on some artifacts, including an egg holder, at the historic Rice Homestead in Mayfield during its open house on Saturday. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

MAYFIELD — The historic Rice Homestead closed up for the winter with an open house on Saturday and Sunday.

Visitors were treated to tours, cookies and mulled cider, a spicy cider imbibed in colonial times.

For the Mayfield Historical Society, which maintains the homestead, the open house was an opportunity to show off a homestead that was established in 1790 by Oliver Rice, a Revolutionary War veteran. The site is on the national and state historic registers.

“Today is just to get people to see how people in the late 1700s and early 1800s lived,” said society president Bob Suits.

“They had to make pretty much what they wanted,” such as tools and utensils.

Amilia Coons of Johnstown stirs a pot of mulled cider at the historic Rice Homestead in Mayfield its open house on Saturday. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

The historical society also garners donations to help it maintain and restore the site.

According to Suits, the society has cleared brush from the house to make it more visible from Route 30, repaired the loose brick from the smokehouse, and replaced a rotting floor beam. Repair of the east side of roof also is being planned.

The house doesn’t have central heating. A stove and fireplaces warm the downstairs and grates and doors allow warm air to rise to the second floor, making the upper floor noticeably cooler. Jessica Ford of Johnstown, a volunteer tour guide, kept warmer for a time standing in front of a fireplace and drinking mulled cider from a pot stirred by Amilia Coons of Johnstown on a wood stove.

Coons, also a volunteer, said her deceased husband, John, was involved in remodeling the homestead.

Skip and Diane Howell of Orange County said they “love older homes,” including the structure of the beams.

Gary VanSlyke of Dolgeville provides music at the historic Rice Homestead in Mayfield its open house on Saturday. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

John Hoose of Gloversville likewise was impressed by “how they used to make things, the architecture.”

Young people “don’t know what it was like back then,” he said.

“I like the old-fashioned design,” said Jen Lake of Mayfield. “It’s like stepping back in time.”

In the living room, guitarist and singer Gary VanSlyke of Dolgeville provided music for the event.

The homestead will reopened sometime in April, Suits said.

Jessica Ford, a volunteer tour guide at the historic Rice Homestead in Mayfield, keeps warm by a fireplace and drinks warm cider during the homestead's open house on Saturday. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

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