In the early 17th century, a group of English religious separatists departed their home shores for Holland, where they could practice their faith apart from the Church of England. After a time, afraid of becoming less English and more “European,” the separatists departed for a new English colony in North America. Landing first on Cape Cod in 1620, these early settlers quickly departed again for a location that would eventually come to be known as Plymouth. With the five hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Plymouth only three years away, I headed out to a unique living museum that tells the story of early American history in Massachusetts.
Established in 1947, Plimoth Plantation is a museum that seeks to preserve the history of early settlement in New England. Located 2.5 miles south of the site of the original colony, Plimoth Plantation is a recreation of the original English settlement as it existed in 1627. The early colonists left behind no blueprints or pictures of the first settlement, so the reconstructed village was created by consulting written accounts left by the settlers, examining paintings of similar villages in England and abroad, and extensive research by architectural historians. Actors inhabit the village, each portraying a person who lived in Plymouth Colony during its earliest years. Clothes, furniture, recipes, and weapons are all period-accurate, and the actors remain in character throughout your visit. Ask a question, and they will answer as if it is still 1627. Reference something modern, such as a smartphone, and they will not understand you.
Not far from the village is the Wampanoag Homesite, a Native American village as it would have existed in the early 17th century. The Homesite is inhabited by Native American staff members. Although they dress in period costume and work at tasks that would have been familiar to a Wampanoag in the 1620s, they are not actors and do not pretend to be living in the 17th century. Rather, they speak of Native American life today, and the challenges facing the indigenous peoples of North America in 2017.
With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, I set off for Plimoth Plantation on a beautiful, if chilly, autumn weekend, to learn more about this historic site.
Before closing, I wanted to share with you a special journey I also undertook this weekend. A friend of mine who lives just outside of Boston owns a 2007 Honda Pilot SUV that he purchased about five years ago with 63,000 on the odometer. He’s a little internet-shy and asked to not have his real name used, so we’ll call him “Jack.” Well, Jack invited me to join him on a road trip Sunday morning to brunch in Cape Cod, during which his Pilot passed the 200,000 milestone. Congratulations Jack! Glad to see your Pilot has been a trusty companion for so many miles, and here’s to many more!
Plimoth Plantation is a fascinating exploration of early American history that presents, overall, a very balanced view of English settlement in New England. While offering an excellent recreation of the Pilgrims homes and lives, the museum also takes the time to carefully tell the story of the Native Americans who lived in Massachusetts before the Mayflower arrived, and the impact this had on their lives. The museum is open 7 days a week from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm. Adult tickets are $28, seniors 62 and over are $26, and children 5-12 are $16. Children under 5 can enter for free. Thank you for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead!