Let's learn about the
Why is this house so special?
The Mather Homestead is a REALLY old home right here in Darien, Connecticut, where it borders New Canaan and Norwalk. It was built in 1778, back in the 18th century - that's OVER 200 YEARS AGO!
Click the arrows to go back in time!
The house has lots of cool stuff inside that people used back then. Can you believe THIS is a toaster???
Where we are on a map:
The green line on the map is Stephen Mather Road, named after our main man himself!
Who is this Stephen Mather guy??
Stephen Tyng Mather was the grandson of Deacon Joseph Mather (who built the house.) He is very important in our country’s history because he created the National Parks System we have today. A National Park is land that is protected by our government so that is can be preserved and well maintained. You may have visited a national park before! Have you been to the Grand Canyon? That's a famous one!
There are now 63 national parks but when Stephen Mather became head of the national parks there was just 14. By the time he retired as Director of the National Park Service he had doubled the number! Because he did so much to conserve parks in our country, you'll see a plaque like this one in most national parks.
The Mather Homestead is so important because Stephen Mather lived in many places around the country but always considered this house his true home!
Stephen Mather and his wife Jane enjoying time out in front of The Homestead!
The Revolutionary war
The house was built in the beginning of that Revolutionary War, when the American colonies were fighting to be independent from Britain. The Loyalists were the people who agreed with England, that the American Colonies should stay part of England. But the Patriots believed that America should become its own independent country.
Would you be a loyalist or a patriot?
Watch this video from Schoolhouse Rock!
In the area of the Mather Homestead, more people were Patriots. But across the Long Island Sound in Long Island, more people were Loyalists. So the Loyalists would row across the sound and raid houses along the shore.
The Mather Raid!
The Loyalists came to the Mather Homestead looking for valuables. But the valuables had been hidden!!! Where would you have hidden valuables? Under the bed? In the ground? The Mather family hid silver and other valuables like clothes in the water well (they were found!) and one other place somewhere in this dining room where they were not found! Check out the dining room and take a guess where the valuables were hidden. Answer below. And can you believe that before the soldiers left, they made Mrs. Mather cook them dinner!! But, good news, they didn't hurt anyone.
The Secret Hiding Place ...
what did kids do back then?
Back in the 1700s, when the homestead was built, the family operated a farm and everyone had to help. They got up really early in the morning to do chores - like milking the cows and collecting the eggs. If kids were lucky, they went to school. They had toys, but definitely no video games! have you seen jumping jacks? the ball and cup? and marbles?
This game is called "rolling the hoop." It's a race to see who can get their hoop to the finish line first.
The Secret Hiding Place ...
The silver was hidden in the tall piece of wooden furniture which has been in the home since it was built. It is called a "high boy." The silver was hidden with leather straps that attached it to the inside top of the cabinet. You can still see the straps today!
Boys and girls were treated really differently. Girls learned to do things like sewing, cooking and serving -- even making candles and soap! And boys were usually learning a "trade," which means a job. And their parents were very strict. You'd better pay attention to the rules or else! They did have treats, but no potato chips or pizza. Some of the treats were candied orange peel and marzipan. Believe it or not they were yummy!