America’s Town, America’s Story: The Campaign for Historic Deerfield

Step into Historic Deerfield and something special happens. You enter a world where-because this is an active community and not a living history museum-yesterday, today, and tomorrow converge. Here, in this authentic New England town, in its centuries of stories about America’s struggle, hopes, and dreams, you find a past that is relevant. You experience perspectives that can help you understand your own story and map your own path. And, by seeing yourself and the world with new eyes, you can join with others in creating a better future, together.

Historic Deerfield seeks to raise $10 million to strengthen its resources for preservation, restoration, and visitor engagement.

This will ensure the continued stewardship of the objects and buildings entrusted to Historic Deerfield’s care, and will allow it to expand its audience while ensuring that each visitor can fully and individually engage in the village’s depth of story and place.

Specifically, Historic Deerfield seeks support in the following areas:


Historic Preservation and Restoration

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Visitor Engagement

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Visitor Engagement

If Historic Deerfield focused solely on preservation and stewardship, and not visitor engagement, it would be a like a stage and props with no play. Telling the stories that bring the houses and objects to life is at the core of Historic Deerfield’s mission. We experience this authentic place with all of our senses. We see and hear and feel the lives of the real people whose stories make up the Deerfield experience. Their stories are told in the actual place where they happened, with the same smells of farmland and hearth, and often with the very objects that were used in and around Deerfield. We offer a feeling of tangible connection to the American story.

Deerfield combines a strong sense of place, with compelling, relevant stories that help visitors, students, researchers, and others gain a new understanding of the world today.

Historic Deerfield plans to raise $5 million to build upon its research-based, innovative programming in new and exciting ways designed to expand audiences and deepen visitor engagement. These include:

v  Special, theatre-based events and tours that tell the many stories of Deerfield, such as the successful play Getting Ready for a Winter’s Ball, set in 1803. With The Street as a luminary-lit stage, visitors move from location to location, participating with actors as the story unfolds about a much-anticipated celebration, complete with the family and courtship dramas that infuse daily life. The evening culminates with a stop at the Hall Tavern, where the dancing master and his prize student demonstrate period dance steps with audience participation.


v  Collaborations with our neighbors, including the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association (PVMA) in Deerfield and the Five Colleges, Inc. (a consortium of the campuses, faculty, and students of Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire Colleges and University of Massachusetts Amherst) to help tell Deerfield stories—American stories—from more perspectives.


These partnerships will build on past successes, including previous collaborations with PVMA: a joint exhibition on the 1704 Deerfield raid, told from French, English, and Native American viewpoints, and a guide to African-American historic sites, which explores the role of free and enslaved African-Americans in Deerfield and early New England.


Funding will also enable Historic Deerfield to accelerate plans for a joint HD/UMASS Undergraduate Residential Program in New England Culture that would bring students to Deerfield for a semester-long, immersive, live-in experience, fostering a much deeper understanding of the subtleties of early New England life than would ever be possible through occasional site-visits and tours.


v  Fresh approaches to interpretation that connect past with present. Through the introduction of musical events that mix historical and contemporary performances, character actors interacting with visitors, and a new app that will enhance touring options along The Street, Historic Deerfield will share stories that reach across the centuries, helping to expand our sense of connection to America’s history while informing our understanding of the present day.


v  Distance learning programs such as webcasts and online symposia that will take Deerfield across the nation and the world, further engaging students, scholars, historians, and others in important conversations about  the past and how the lessons learned can relate to the present.



v  Increased use of social media to share Deerfield’s stories more broadly, and expanded marketing initiatives to draw more visitors to Deerfield to directly experience these American stories.

Deerfield’s combination of an authentic setting, documented historic houses, remarkable collections, and real-life stories about the American past makes it a unique national treasure. With more dynamic visitor engagement and expanded learning opportunities, Historic Deerfield can bring more people into the magic and power of other times.

By engaging diverse audiences over a spectrum of interests, more people will have the opportunity to find their own entry point to the past. And by providing even richer immersive experiences, more people will have the “a-ha” moments that help us to better understand ourselves, our communities, and the world around us.

Of the $5 million raised for visitor engagement, Historic Deerfield will allocate $3.5 million for the immediate use of funds to create vibrant and innovative programming, including fully staffing the programs and marketing them to the public, in order to make these new initiatives successful. The remaining $1.5 million will be put in an endowment to ensure that the Museum is able to sustain this programming for an increasing number of visitors.


Funding Allocation

$5,000,000 Visitor Engagement

$3.5 Million Current-Use Expenditure to implement major HD educational initiatives

v  Expand existing programs, including:

· Interpreter Training and Curriculum Development

· Wilson Printing Office Program

· Historic Trades Program

· Hearth Cooking Program

· Apprentice’s Workshop Program

· History Workshop Natural History Program

v  Implement new touring and scholarship programs, including:

· HD/UMASS Undergraduate Residential Program in New England Culture

· Mobile App Touring Program

· Distance Learning Programs through Webcasts and Online Conferences

v  Develop new visitor experiences, including:

· Historic Music Program

· Historic Theater Program including Character Interpreters

· Architectural History Museum Gallery

v  Plan expansion options for the Flynt Center of Early New England Life to create more exhibition space, interactive visitor experiences, and a modern auditorium.

$1.5 Million Endowment to support annual development of visitor experiences and audience expansion by

strengthening existing programming and by launching new ones that animate the entire historic landscape for visitors and families with children

v  Expand Visitor Services

v  Expand Marketing Program

$5,000,000 Historic Preservation

$1.1 Million Current-Use Capital Expenditure to enable Historic Deerfield to address the most urgent preservation need: the Stebbins House Restoration Project

$3.9 Million Endowment to support annual long-term stewardship of historic buildings and collections of early American artifacts