Our communities are rich in culture and history. It always intrigues me to think of life here hundreds of years ago — putting ourselves back to the time of no modern conveniences — boy how times have changed.
The Miller-Cory House, in Westfield, NJ is a great example and interpretation of life in the 18th century. This nationally recognized historic landmark and museum stands on the “road to the mountains” in Westfield, New Jersey and depicts life during those times. It was named in honor of the home’s two 18th century owners who were descendents of the earliest settlers in this area.
While the Corys and the Millers were rural farmers, the “West Fields” were located at the crossroads of colonial America on Old York, the main road from Philadelphia to New York. Like today, life is uniquely influenced by a location between two large cities, and this locale gave the farmers a degree of sophistication.
The House in Westfield is a story-and-a-half clapboard farmhouse with beam and brace construction, a shingled roof and nogging filled walls, typical of a middle-class New Jersey homestead in the mid-18th century. It was built in 1740, at the time Samuel Miller married his wife Sabra. Three sections were constructed before Samuel Miller passed away in 1782. Joseph Cory took over ownership of the property in 1784, and it remained in the Cory family until 1921.
The struggle to survive during the colonial period merged two characteristics basic to American life — independence and self-reliance. Those in the community counted on one another for manpower at threshing time, raising a barn, sawing wood and other taxing activities. Without the help of one another, they also wouldn’t have been able to survive in times of crisis such as fighting fires, floods or helping ailing neighbors with their crops.
People assisting one another within the community were considered a type of socializing, too, referred to back then as a “bee.” A bee helped turn a difficult situation into a time of fellowship and fun. Miller-Cory chose the symbol of the bee as a reflection of cooperative effort. It is this spirit that is an integral part of the quality of life today just as it was in the early years of the nation.
Today, this Westfield landmark stands as a “living museum.” On Sundays, tours are given by guides dressed from that era, and visitors are introduced to various colonial skills as artisans recreate crafts, everyday life and the tasks of living in the 18th and early 19th century farm family. The cooks at the Miller-Cory House also demonstrate the art of food preparation with live cooking exhibitions on the open hearth.
The Museum Gift Shop contains colonial reproductions and handcrafts, educational materials and cookbooks with delicious, colonial recipes prepared by Miller-Cory volunteers.
The Museum is open every Sunday, except holiday weekends, between 2 and 4 p.m. Weekday tours for community and school groups can be set up by appointment.
Upcoming events can be found by clicking here. Step back in time and experience the wonders of the Miller-Cory Museum. Makes us appreciate our past and our present even more.
Admission: $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for children (3-12), children under three are free.
Address: 614 Mountain Avenue, Westfield, NJ 07090
Office hours: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to noon.
Parking: On-street, free