ARMONK, N.Y. Theres nothing more important to the North Castle Historical Society than preserving the towns past and members Judy Early and Bertha Leinung do not want the younger generations to take history for granted.
Its memories of our fore fathers and all the people before us, Early said. Its our culture, where we came from and it teaches us how quickly and creatively weve been over just a few hundred years.
Early and Leinung often conduct tours of Smith Tavern on Bedford Road, one of North Castles most historic sites. The tavern, according to a historical society publication, is believed to have been built in the late 1700s. It was labeled Smiths Tavern because John Smith, a former captain in the continental Army, operated the main house as a tavern, post office and stopping place for the Danbury stage.
The oldest parts of the tavern exhibit the working-class style of life in the colonies during the 16th and 17th centuries, with low wood-beam ceilings and small living areas and bedrooms.
We cant compare our historic buildings to Europe because the architecture there is just awesome, but theyve been there for thousands of years, Early said. Just the structure of these buildings and what was in those buildings, you really see that our society has come a long way very fast. Its just incredible.
Most items are not original to the house, according to Early and Leinung, because there have been at least seven or eight families living in the house over the years.
A lot of the stuff was gathered by the farmers that were here, things people had in attics they gave us and its all very similar to what was here in the beginning, Early said. When people bought their houses theyd find things in their attics or basements, clean it up, and then bring it over and give it to us.
One of the most striking items in the original part of the tavern is the tiny rope bed, which Leinung was quick to give a lesson about.
We love to teach visitors where the saying sleep tight came from, Leinung said. On these rope beds your weight, after a while, would stretch the ropes and youd have to tighten them back up to get comfortable.
The Smith Tavern property was bought by the historical society in 1974 and has remained in its control since then. Accompanying the original tavern are three buildings that were moved from nearby locations in North Castle, including a blacksmith shop, a school house and the Quaker meeting house.
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