Friday, July 13, 2012

Welcome to Our New Blog


We invite all of you to join us at our New Blog.


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Thursday, July 12, 2012

We Have a Pressed Penny Machine!!!

The Museum's Pressed Penny Machine arrived today!

There are 4 designs:
Hyde House (also known as the Octagon House)
Hetchler House (also known as the Pioneer Cabin)
Oxen (affectionately known as Tom and Mike)
and of course, our own Civil War Balloon, the Intrepid!
Join us this weekend to help us meet our goal of 1,000 Pressed Pennies!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Intrepid Takes to the Air!

As you approach South Field, the home of the Intrepid, you round a row of trees to see the reconstructed Civil War balloon standing tall, ready to take flight.
As was the case during the War, General George McClellan watches over the field from the side of the Intrepid.

The Intrepid goes aloft with Balloonist Chris Lynn.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pioneer Family Reflections

“Q-tips and tissues” was the ready answer from Mike Holcomb, patriarch of our most recent “Pioneer Family,” when asked what he missed most during his stay here.  Mike, his wife Carrie, and their three children (Audrey, Zach, and Natalie) spent the weekend of June 8-10 on site in the Hetchler House as the latest participants of the Pioneer House Experience.  They slept, ate, worked and played together like pioneers in the early nineteenth century Genesee Country.  What they were hoping to get out of the event was “a truer sense of where we come from, a deeper gratitude for what we have, [and] a greater appreciation for the little things.”  They profess that they were not disappointed, and it was a great experience for them as a family and fulfilled all the expectations they had when they signed up to spend the weekend at the log house on the pioneer farmstead. 

The kids, too, rolled up their sleeves and took action just as openly as their parents.  In fact, the whole weekend was Audrey’s birthday wish!  She had her birthday during the visit, and said that being able to spend it at the Pioneer House Experience would, “the best birthday ever!!”  She asked for vinegar pie to be made, and she really liked it!  Zach and Natalie didn’t care for it, but sampled it with a true pioneer spirit.  Zach also celebrated his birthday while here, and though he didn’t exactly share his sister’s birthday wish, he was very excited to share the experience with his family, and made some new, wooly, feathered, and hooved friends while here.  When asked what he would miss the most about staying here, his answer was the sheep.  He and Audrey made each other birthday gifts, and shared the chores, helping Mom & Dad make sure everything got done.  Not to be left out, little Natalie, made herself right at home, enjoying a doll her mother made her right on the spot. 

The family agreed that what they liked best about the experience was the peace and quiet of the evenings, and trying new things.  They left still feeling excited about the educational value of the weekend, and in their own words “What better way to learn about history than to live it?” 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

War of 1812 Bicentenial & Jane Austen Weekend

Please join us this weekend to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and revel in the fashions of the Jane Austen Era.

Two hundred years ago, New Yorkers from throughout the Rochester, Finger Lakes and Genesee region hastily assembled volunteer militia units to invade British Canada in 1812.
Eclipsed by the bloodshed of the Civil War, and often overlooked in the aftermath of two World Wars, the “Forgotten” War of 1812 is revisited on its Bicentennial at Genesee Country Village & Museum, Saturday and Sunday, June 23-24.
The weekend’s activities include:
  • Morning Parade & Flag Raising on the Village Square
  • Fashion Shows: Military Uniforms and Jane Austen style dresses
  • Live target shooting with muskets & artillery
  • Jane Austen dance demonstration by the English Country Dancers of Rochester (Saturday only)
  • Skillful craftspeople showcasing their talents in tailoring, medicine and apothecary
  • Tactical demonstrations and militia drills
  • Native Americans' role in the war
  • Genesee Harmonic Society concert featuring patriotic music (Sunday only)
NEW for 2012! - Join our Jane Austen Tea Party
Enjoy a relaxing cup of the 19th century’s finest tea while you chat about Jane Austen’s books with a rabid fan, and nibble on dainty tea cakes made according to 19th-century receipts (recipes). Imagine yourself a society debutante waited on by a servant and using the best china and linen the Village has to offer! This exclusive tea takes place on June 23 and 24 at 3pm both days.
  • Due to the intimate nature of the setting, seating is limited to 8 people per day.
  • Tickets are $10 per person (in addition to museum admission) and are pre-purchase only.

The War of 1812 Bicentennial & Jane Austen Weekend is sponsored in part by the New York Council for the Humanities.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Macy's Miracle, Says Museum CEO; Civil War Balloon to Take Flight with Last-Minute Helium Donation

Public Excursions on the Intrepid to Begin July 4 at Genesee Country Village & Museum
 MUMFORD, N.Y., June 18 — When the CEO of the Genesee Country Village & Museum (GCV&M; set out last year to build and fly the world's first replica of a Civil War manned balloon – the Intrepid – little did he know his dream could collapse from a nationwide helium shortage. But he also didn't bargain that one of the country's most iconic retailers would step forward to deliver a miracle at the last minute, literally raising the project off the ground.

 Thanks to the generous support of Macy's – a brand synonymous with the giant helium-filled balloons that grace Manhattan's skies every Thanksgiving morning – the Intrepid will begin flying this July 4 outside of Rochester, N.Y. Weather permitting, the balloon will take guests 300 feet (32 stories) into the sky, simulating what some of the world’s first military pilots (a.k.a. aeronauts) experienced 150 years ago.

"We were looking for a miracle. The Museum was seemingly out of options to secure helium after having placed innumerable calls to dealers, government officials and even decommissioned research laboratories across the U.S.," said Peter Arnold, GCV&M's CEO and president. "Then we heard from Macy's, which was able to donate the 50,000 cubic feet we needed. We’re simply ecstatic, as we were within days of having to suspend our opening. 'The Magic of Macy's' has never been more real."

First announced this past February, the Intrepid project has captured the imagination of families, educators, historians and aviation enthusiasts across North America. Renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and adventure balloonist and Virgin Group Chairman Sir Richard Branson have both praised the historic reconstruction.

"Supporting education is an important aspect of our community giving, made even more relevant in this case since Macy’s was founded during the Civil War era,” said Russell Schutte, senior vice president / director of stores, Macy’s Midwest. “With our unique connection to helium ballooning, we had the opportunity to help Genesee Country Village & Museum fulfill its dream to open this one-of-a-kind, interactive exhibit. The result will benefit not only the people of Western New York, but visitors who will travel from across the U.S. and overseas to experience the wonder and history of flight.”

Featuring its signature giant helium character balloons, the 86th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place on Thursday, November 22.
One side of the deflated Intrepid is hand-painted
by illustrator Todd Price in May 2012.

Conceived by Professor Thaddeus Lowe, the Union Army Balloon Corps was personally approved by President Abraham Lincoln in June 1861. Not only was the Intrepid the predecessor to modern-day military aviation, but it also foreshadowed the future of military reconnaissance communications. The pilot would send intelligence information – troop movements, artillery compensation instructions, and more – to soldiers on the ground via telegraph.

Like the original seven gas balloons used by the Union Army during the Civil War, the Intrepid is tethered to land for optimal convenience and safety. Visitors – up to four at a time – will have the opportunity to take 15-minute flights for a nominal cost in addition to their museum entry fee.

A team of prominent advisors is assisting with the project, including Tom D. Crouch, Ph.D., senior curator of Aeronautics for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum; Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); and Rob Shenk, director, Internet Strategy & Development, Civil War Trust.

For more information, visit or follow the museum on Twitter at @GCVandM.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Village Happenings - Hosmer Supper and A Pioneer Experience

This past weekend, the historic village was filled with family and friends as we hosted the first two of this season's Hosmer Inn Suppers and a family joined us for their pioneer experience.

The Salamagundi Salad with Hosmer House dressing was filled with beautiful seasonal greens and flowers.

Guests enjoyed each others company as they dined on a tasty spring soup.

The youngest of the weekend's pioneers was happy to show off her work.

Even with the damp weather, we hope everyone had an enjoyable time.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Before and After in the Smoke House

 Here are the before and after photos from our Smoke House

Notice how the meat has darkened, developing a layer of creosote. This layer of creosote acts as a protective layer, preserving the meat inside while developing the flavor of the meat. The word "creosote" comes from the Greek kréas and sōtēr, meaing flesh preserver.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The History, Art and Science of Stereo Photography by David Damico

Since the early days of photography, the stereoscopic image has been of interest to the public and documentarians alike. In 1851, English mathematician, David Brewster delighted Queen Victoria during the London Exhibition with his stereo photographs mounted side by side. That sparked the tremendous popularity of stereo photography and stereoscopes that lasted well into the later 19th century. Popular images included mythological, literary scenes from classical antiquity, famous personages, comedy scenes and historic events. Many of the Civil War photographs frequently seen started out as a stereo photograph making this war the first to be seen by the general public.

What constitutes a stereo image? The normal, single photographic image is called a “monocular” image since it stands by itself. The term “stereo” means two and is considered a “binocular” set of images. The stereo camera takes these two images simultaneously using two lenses. The images are spaced roughly the same distance as our “interocular” distance, the spacing between our eyes. Using a “Holmes” style viewer (such as the antique stereoscope) or small “lorgnette” glasses to view the stereo pairs brings the views together where we are able to see 3D depth.

The compositional approach is different between a single image photo and a stereo photo. In single image photography, the photographer tries to avoid anything in front of the object such as a tree in front of a building. An angle will be chosen to photograph the building directly, without obstruction. This can be for artistry or documentary purposes. In stereo photography, the stereographer looks for something in the foreground that compliments the main object in the background so there is a visual, spatial cue when the images are combined to show the depth in the image. This can be a rock, tree limb or any object. In some images, the main object will be in the foreground and the spatial cue object is framed behind. For maximum depth perception, it is best if the foreground subject is fairly close to the camera with the background object farther away. The realistic perception of depth is called “immersion.” The more the viewer is immersed in the image, the more real the perception.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Illustrator Todd Price Begins Painting Intrepid: World’s First Civil War Manned Balloon Replica Comes to Life

ELK CREEK, Va., May 25, 2012 — Tucked away in the far southwest corner of Virginia sits a former schoolhouse, its gymnasium transformed into a temporary home for one of the country’s most anticipated historic reconstructions. Illustrator Todd Price is on hands and knees, laboriously applying vinyl inks to his one-of-a-kind, large scale canvas – Intrepid, the world’s first and only Civil War manned balloon replica.

Intrepid is slated to begin flights over Western New York beginning July 4 at Genesee Country Village & Museum’s (GCV&M; When it takes to the air, Museum guests and residents across the region will be treated to a remarkable display of artistry.

Based on photos, drawings and notes depicting the original Intrepid, Mr. Price’s work is attempting to maintain historical accuracy. One side of the balloon shows an American Eagle with wings outstretched (25 feet from tip to tip) clutching an American flag, and holding in its beak a framed portrait of revered General George McClellan. The other side prominently displays the Intrepid moniker.

“To our knowledge, no one else has attempted to paint an image this large and complex on a balloon in modern times,” said Peter Arnold, president and CEO of GCV&M. “After looking at the number of challenges associated with this task, it becomes a bit easier to understand why.”

Following fabrication of the Intrepid’s shell envelope by AeroBalloon in Hingham, Mass., it was recently transported to Elk Creek, Va., where Mr. Price keeps his studio, ToddPriceArt. After carefully maneuvering the 45-by-70-foot, 1,500-pound balloon into the vacant school gymnasium, he set to work.

The artist describes his painstaking process. “I first made a transparency of my original illustration, projected it to full scale on pattern paper, and perforated the images. Finding the center lines of the balloon, I rolled the patterns out and transferred the images with a charcoal pounce bag through the holes. I then penciled the full size image onto the balloon.”

“After premixing vinyl inks – a warm, medium and cool for each element – I began painting from the center using fitches, working outward to avoid kneeling on the image. The inks dry very rapidly, altering my usual blending techniques, so I’m forced to work quickly and the colors have to be spot on.”

Adding to the complexity is the structure of the deflated balloon itself. A sphere, the balloon doesn't lie flat and the substrate doesn't stretch, requiring Mr. Price to paint over hills and valleys while maintaining the proper perspective.

Although today he teaches at the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts in Galax, Va., Mr. Price is no stranger to large format painting. From 1986 to 1992, he lived in Rochester, N.Y., painting billboard pictorials across the region prior to the advent of vinyl wraps.

He maintains another connection to armed conflicts in our nation’s past, having designed the 3,600 square foot Blue Ridge Veterans Memorial, which is currently under construction.

Painting of the Intrepid is expected to be completed by early June, after which GCV&M will take delivery of the balloon. Construction of a companion Civil War encampment has begun, bringing an added dimension of realism to Museum guests.

 First announced this past February, the Intrepid project has captured the imagination of families, educators, historians and aviation enthusiasts across North America. In addition, renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and adventure balloonist and Virgin Group Chairman Sir Richard Branson have both praised the historic reconstruction.

A team of prominent advisors is assisting with the project, including Tom D. Crouch, Ph.D., senior curator of Aeronautics for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum; Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); and Rob Shenk, director, Internet Strategy & Development, Civil War Trust.

 For more information and photos, visit

This Weekend in the Historic Village

  • Both Saturday and Sunday at Humphrey, will be dying in purple, gold and green.
  • At Kieffer on Saturday you can meet the midwife.
  • All weekend you can try your hand at quilting at Eastman.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Genesee Country Village & Museum is seeking a balloon crew!

Genesee Country Village & Museum is seeking a balloon crew! The crew consists of three men (a Winch Operator, a Balloon Interpreter and an Encampment Interpreter) who will operate the Intrepid Helium Balloon for public rides and interpret the Civil War balloon encampment in period appropriate clothing. 

The Winch Operator is responsible for the physical operation of the balloon through the control of the winch. The operator is responsible for monitoring relevant meteorological data and insuring that daily operational documentation is kept. The Winch Operator is also responsible for declaring unsafe ballooning conditions, discontinuing operations and reporting this to the admissions area and other pertinent staff on grounds. The Winch Operator will also interpret to the public the military, technological and operational capabilities of the recreated Civil War era balloon “Intrepid”. This position will work primarily on the ground, though on occasion it may substitute or relieve the Balloon Interpreter, in which this person will work at heights of 200 to 300 feet. In addition, the Winch Operator will assist in safety procedures in the balloon during boarding and off-boarding of guests on the balloon, and performing basic maintenance and upkeep of exhibit area.

The Balloon Interpreter is responsible for presenting the military, technological and operational capabilities of recreated the Civil War era balloon “Intrepid”. This position will work primarily in the balloon, rising to the heights of 200 to 300 feet. While in the balloon, the Balloon Interpreter will provide interpretation that includes explanations of the balloon’s historic and contemporary operation, scientific and technological principles behind the operation of the balloon as well as ancillary communication activities associated with the operation of the balloon during the Civil War. In addition, the Balloon Interpreter will be the primary staff person responsible for insuring guests follow all safety procedures in the balloon during the ride, assist in boarding and off-boarding of guests on the balloon, and performing basic maintenance and upkeep of exhibit area. The Balloon Interpreter may also function as temporary Winch Operator working the winch and tracking meteorological conditions. 
The Encampment Interpreter is responsible for presenting the military, technological and operational capabilities of the recreated Civil War era balloon “Intrepid”. This includes providing explanations and demonstrations of the scientific and technological principles behind the operation of the balloon as well as ancillary communication activities associated with the operation of the balloon during the Civil War. In addition, the interpreter will assist the balloon crew in boarding and off-boarding of guests on the balloon, providing crowd control, basic maintenance and upkeep of exhibit area. 
Please visit our employment page to apply!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Smoking in the Smoke-House

Currently, and for the next two weeks, the smoke-house behind Hosmer's Inn will be at work smoking meat.  

The meat inside brined for up to twelve weeks prior to being placed into the smoke house to begin the smoking process. This year we are using a combination of apple and cherry wood to apply the smoke. We build our fire in a large iron pot in the corner of the smoke-house to help facilitate a smokey fire and control the heat so we are infusing the meat with smoke instead of cooking it with fire.

The following description of a smoke-house by a Western New York farmer was published in the Thursday, January 5th, 1860 edition of The Prairie Farmer published in Chicago as well as the Southern Cultivator’s January, 1860 edition and the Baptist Family Magazine in the fall of the same year.
A Cheap and Good Smoke-House

 “No farmer should be without a good smoke-house, and such a one as will be fire-proof and tolerably secure from thieves. Fifty hams can be smoked at one time, in a smoke-house seven by eight feet square. Mine is six by seven, and is large enough for most farmers. I first dug all the ground out below where the frost would reach, and filled it up to the surface with small stones. On this I laid my brick floor, in lime and mortar. The walls are brick, eight inches thick, and seven feet high, with a door on one side two feet wide. The door should be made of wood and lined with a sheet of iron. For the top I put on joints, two by four, set up edgewise, and eight and a half inches from center to center, covered with brick, and put on a heavy coat of mortar. I built a small chimney on the top in the center, arching it over and covering it with a single roof in the usual way. An arch should be built on the outside, with a small iron door to shut it up, similar to a stove door, with a hole from the arch through the wall of the smoke-house, and an iron grate over it. This arch is much more convenient and better to put the fire in, than to build a fire inside the smoke-house, and the chimney causes a draft through into the smoke-house. Good corn cobs or hickory wood are the best materials to make a smoke for hams. The cost of such a smoke-house as I have described is about $20.”

For a more detailed description of curing pork, read “The Art of Curing Bacon” in The Farmers’ Cabinet, 1840.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Intrepid Launch Date Uncertain Due to Helium Shortage

We’ve come up against an unusual problem in getting our Civil War replica gas balloon off the ground!  The increasing severity of the global helium shortage has put our planned launch of July 4 at risk.

This historic project, announced earlier in the year, has won the backing of Ken Burns, Sir Richard Branson, the Smithsonian and the Civil War Trust. It’s been called one of the most intriguing events planned during the War’s 150th anniversary remembrance. When operating, the balloon will soar up to 300 feet above Western New York with a pilot and passengers. And now the project may literally have trouble getting off the ground on time, since the Museum is unable to find a helium supplier at any cost, anywhere in the U.S.

We’re going public with this challenge today, in hopes of finding a white knight. We’re trying to be resourceful, having been in contact with the Fermi National Lab in Illinois, which had used the gas for cooling its supercollider; and with members of Congress regarding tapping the U.S. reserve. We remain hopeful!

Meanwhile, balloon construction continues – it’s being painted by our muralist Todd Price in Southern Virginia  at the moment.

Recreating Stereo Photography at the GCV&M by David Damico

Since 1838, photography has been debated as documentary or art. Early admirers of the photographic image thought it divine since the imagery portrayed the real world in such vivid detail as given by the Creator. To this day, there is an ongoing discussion about photography as documentary or art. As a photographer myself, I believe it can be both.
Genesee Country Museum is now proud to present stereo photographs of the Great Meadow and the Historic Village by village interpreter, David Damico (myself), available in the Flint Hill Gift Store. The photos are of many of the historic buildings in the village as well as interpreters of the trades and domestic services. I have been a regular, seasonal interpreter in the Village Print Office for the past three seasons. The images were shot during the three season period using two types of cameras, a film based, “Stereo Realist” camera and the digital, Fuji, W3, Stereo camera. Both types of images are offered.

The stereo photos are mounted side by side on a card. The edges of each card have been letterpress printed with the name and website of the museum, a blending of tradition with modern technology. The backsides of the card feature information on the scene or building as in the antique cards. Each card is protected by a sleeve and fits any antique or modern reproduction stereoscope. The smaller lorgnette viewers are available for purchase in the Flint Hill Gift Store. More images will be added as the season progresses.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Intrepid Comes to Life

The silk of the Intrepid is being painted!
Here we see the artist, Todd Price, carefully painting the silk of the Intrepid with the historically researched design.
Seeing the artist alongside the art gives us an idea of the scale of the balloon.

Military Heritage Day - Tomorrow!

Join us tomorrow, Saturday, May 19th as GCV&M salutes the Armed Forces on Military Heritage Day.
Throughout the museum you will find exhibits of four centuries of wars and conflicts including 1812 and Civil War weapons displays.

10:30 A.M.
Excelsior Fife and Drum Concert

11:30 A.M.
Rochester Scottish Pipes & Drums Concert

Noon & 1:30 P.M.
Children’s Militia—Join the Union and Confederate Civil War Soldiers and learn to drill and fight

11 A.M., 1 P.M., 2 P.M., & 3 P.M.
Live Firearms Demonstration: Flintlock to M1 Garand

3:30 P.M.
"Soldiers Through Time" Uniform Presentation

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Count Down to Opening Day: What is New in 2012 - 2 Days until Opening Day - Sugaring Flowers

This year on the GCV&M blog, we will regularly share recipies from the historic foodways department. To kick us off, here is a spring time favorite:

As the flowers are blossoming, this is the ideal time for sugaring flowers.
Here you can see violets, both the flowers and leaves, as well as mint leaves.

 A lovely accompaniment is this beautifully colored jelly.  To get this color, simply add a little fruit juice to Ms. Acton's reciept below.
Eliza Acton explains one method of making Apple Jelly in her “Modern Cookery” (1845)
Apple Calf’s Feet Jelly.
Pour a quart of prepared apple juice on a pound of fresh apples pared and cored, and simmer them until they are well-broken; strain the juice, and let it stand until cold; them measure, an put a pint and a half of it into a stewpan with a quart of calf’s feet stock, nine ounces of sugar broken small or roughly pounded, the juice of two fine lemons, and the thin rinds of one and a half, with the whites and shells of eight eggs. Let it boil gently for ten minutes, then strain it through a flannel-bag, and when cool put into moulds. It will be very clear, and firm, and of a pleasant flavour.