In early November, I had the pleasure of visiting Cooperstown, New York during a week-long driving tour. From the pleasant vistas of the fall colors, the comfortable accommodations and the informative museums of the area, Cooperstown is a HIT. These four museums in and around Cooperstown are not to be missed when visiting the area!
Hyde Hall is a 19th-century residence outside of Cooperstown designed by architect Phillip Hooker. The residence was built between 1817 and 1834 by George Clarke. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1986. The magnificent house is perched high on the hill overlooking Otsego Lake. If you stand on the lakefront in Cooperstown, you can just make out the shape of a sleeping lion on the hill, Hyde Hall. The drive up the long drive to the house is reminiscent of the drive to Highclere Castle of Downton Abbey fame.
In fact, the entire house brings an image of Downton Abby to mind. When you enter the formal dining room with its extraordinarily ornate vapor light chandeliers and massive painting of ‘Jenny’ that towers above the table, you think the family will enter the room and sit down to dinner.
The property was acquired by New York State in 1963 and since 1988, great care has been taken with the restoration of the property by the Friends of Hyde Hall, the organization charged with the care and restoration of massive house. Due to the excellent records kept over the life of the property by the Clarke family, there is plentiful documentation regarding the building and purchasing for the residence. Much of the furniture, most of which was made in New York State, is original to the house. The house now is part of the Glimmerglass State Park which is a short drive outside of Cooperstown.
The Farmer’s Museum was founded in 1943. This turned out to be one of the most interesting stops during my week-long tour the Finger Lakes region. The museum was closed but one employee, a nice young man, Patrick, was generous and gave me a brief tour of this captivating village and life in 19th Century America. All the buildings in this living museum were relocated to the museum space in the 1950s from a radius of one hundred miles of Cooperstown. The museum features a hand-carved carousel.
One thousand volunteer carvers carved the Carousal, and it is truly a work of art. We visited the Blacksmith’s shop, the print shop, the pharmacy, and the tavern. The Farmers Museum is a unique teaching museum , and it is well worth the trip.
FENIMORE ART MUSEUM
Fenimore Art Museum is located just across the street from the Farmer’s Museum, provided me with a nice retreat from the snow and cold. I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibits at the Fenimore from the Letters from Alexander Hamilton’s Final Act, the works of David Levinthal, Puzzles of the Brain, the Coopers of Cooperstown and the Native American art. It proved to be a pleasant, quiet refuge in the middle of a hectic day.
NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
The National Baseball Hall of Fame lies at the heart of Cooperstown. Baseball may not be my favorite sport but I certainly appreciate our National pastime, especially as it relates to my hometown. Mobile, Alabama has made an enormous contribution to baseball throughout the years. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered a large exhibit about Mobile native, Hank Aaron at the Hall of Fame. Mobile has produced five Baseball Hall of Famers; Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige, Ozzie Smith, and Billy Williams. That is more Hall of Famer’s than any other city than New York and Los Angeles. The Hall of Fame provides visitors with an in-depth look at the game and its players from its beginnings to the most recent World Series game.
Exhibits range from the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, the African American pioneers in baseball and Viva Baseball about the Latin American baseball players to the record-breaking moments in the game’s history. All the artifacts and memorabilia throughout the museum have been donated by fans of the game and are amazing.
From Babe Ruth’s Yankee uniform to Hank Aaron’s bat and glove, the artifacts help in telling the story of our National Pastime. The Hall of Fame itself is a meaningful tribute to the men and women who play and have played this game as a testament to their hard work and talent. Mariano Rivera is eligible in 2019, and Derek Jeter is eligible for induction in 2020. I am sure the ceremonies on July 21, 2019, and July 26, 2020, will be record breakers for Cooperstown.
I had the pleasure of staying at the Inn at Cooperstown during my visit to Otsego County. This charming and comfortable B&B is located on Chestnut Street. I arrived a bit later than intended and the Inn’s location made it easy to dash out to grab a bite of dinner on Cooperstown’s main street. Breakfast at the Inn was delicious and effortlessly presented to the guests. My room was nicely appointed with a comfortable king bed, large television and cozy bath. B&B’s are a big draw in the Cooperstown area and I would recommend the Inn at Cooperstown when visiting. Parking was also provided directly behind the Inn.
My grateful thanks to Cassandra Harrington and Jacqueline White at https://www.thisiscooperstown.com/ in arranging such an in-depth and wonderful visit to Otsego County. There is so much to enjoy and discover in Cooperstown and Otsego County! I hope that I can return to enjoy more of its rich history.