Harvest Festival attracts people of all ages
In the dining room of the Mather home on Steven Mather Road in Darien, there’s a highboy that was used during the Revolutionary War.
“During the Raid of the Tories, who were loyalists to the King of England, valuables were hidden in the highboy,” said Dave Miller, a docent at the Mather Homestead, during a tour he gave in the home on Saturday, Nov. 3. “The Tories couldn’t find them.”
Valuables were also hidden in the well, added Miller, who gave the tour at the second annual Harvest Festival.
More than 250 people came to the festival throughout the course of the day, according to Lauren Swenson, executive director of the Mather Homestead.
On the property, there were about seven stations with activities including pony rides and sack races, as well as make-your-own caramel candy apples and keepsakes.
By noon, children were lined up at each station, waiting for their turn.
Phoebe Bovay, 4, and her sister Paige, 3, of Stamford, got to ride ponies. Phoebe sat on top of a brown and white Shetland mix.
“The original Shetland mix came from Shetland Island in the United Kingdom,” said Denise Fischer, an animal handler from Thornwood, N.Y. “The ponies here come from Patterson.”
After their pony rides, Paige and Phoebe planned to head over to the candy apple table.
“When I was a little girl, I liked the red apples,” said Chloe, the girls’ mother. “I’m living my dream with my girls.”
Three-year-old Shaun Liu of Darien, who stood in line to ride a pony, was eating an apple cider donut.
“I came here last year when they first opened, said Minnie Liu, Shaun’s mother. “It’s nice that they have this event for the kids.”
Inside the tent, 5-year-old Beatrice Martin was deciding upon which toppings she should dip her hot caramel apple into — white chocolate chips, chocolate M&S’s, or rainbow sprinkles. Or, all three.
At the craft table, Henry Symons, 5, of Darien, was making a lavender pouch for his au pair, Johanna.
Henry said he likes Johanna very much. “I do arts and crafts with her, and go scooting,” said Henry, as he placed the letter J on the pouch. “She can use it in her room.”
The Mather Homestead
The Mather Homestead was built in 1778 by Deacon Joseph Mather and owned by the Mather family through seven generations.
The property was a working farm until the 1960s.
It became a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. In 2017, it was designated as a Protected Town Landmark and donated to the Mather Homestead Foundation.
The Mather family was a “prominent” family in town, Miller said. Joseph Mather had 11 children with his wife Sarah. He was the son of Moses Mather, who was minister of the First Congregational Church of Darien on Brookside Road, which is still in existence today.
Stephen Mather, great-grandson of Deacon Joseph Mather, was founder and first director of the National Parks Service.
The Mather Home is a traditional center chimney colonial, according to Miller.
Much of the original furniture in the home has been preserved, and tour-goers got the chance to ask questions and touch different items.
Three of the rooms in the home contain fireplaces.
There is a beehive oven, which was used for baking.
In the same room as the oven, there is also a brass instrument with a rounded shape at the top, which was a bed warmer.
“At nighttime, people would fill it with coals and then run it through the beds to warm up the sheets before the person would get into bed,” Miller said. “It was the original electric blanket.”
In the parlor, the family would gather in the evening for prayer.
The home’s original grandfather clock, which stood against a wall, still operates, according to Miller.
“The same family was in the home for well over 200 years,” Miller said.
“We are opening the Mather Homestead for its educational history,” Swenson said.
The Mather Homestead gives a regular monthly tour on Sundays at 1 p.m., on Nov. 18 and Dec. 9. Tours are also available by appointment and during community events. Walk-ins are welcome or reservations can be made by emailing email@example.com. The suggested donation is $10 per person.
For more information, call 917-399-8740 or visit matherhomestead.org.