AURORA — It was a walk through history Saturday as Jodi Baldwin, owner of Howland Farm Museum, showcased all the ins and outs of her Aurora estate.
The tour featured the main house, laundry shed, ice house and barn complete with an elaborate horse carriage.
Baldwin, who has made it her mission to keep the Howland history alive, spoke of not only of Howland and area history, but the history of the time period, and spoke of everything from flooring to architectural features to quilts, wedding dresses of different time periods and documents. “Here’s a check written from Mr. Howland to Mr. Emerson. I would love to find out the story behind this for they are both prominent families in the area!” she said.
For her, it is like putting a puzzle together saying she is constantly finding new things and trying to connect them.
Her vision is to restore the estate to what it not only looked like in its hey day, but how it worked, complete with crops and hand tools of the day.
“My goal will be to have a place where eventually people will see crops like wheat and barley that were grown 150 years ago, the way they were grown," she said. "So when they stop by in June, people will see what it was like in June in 1850; when they come in August, they will see what it was like in August of 1850.”
To date, Baldwin has restored some of the house, and has researched the history extensively through personal interviews, and other sources such as diaries and magazine/books and journals of the 1800s. The tour was filled with not only her ideas of how things worked, but of personal stories of the Howlands who lived there and what their contributions were. She spoke of one resident, a former music teacher, telling her how she used to go outside on the roof and sing to the fields. “Can’t you just see it?” she asks. She also spoke of how the family remembers an annex with doors leading to it, and talks of how there may have been an indoor outhouse for the family to use before indoor plumbing. “This is one of the things I would like to restore,” she said.
“This tour was great, “ said Fleming resident Linda Simmons, “Jodi is a wealth of information, and every tour should be this good!”
Considering this is Baldwin’s second job, and current home, she is doing things slowly and methodically. Current programming includes nature walks, runs, yoga (fee), movie/theater nights, open houses, and even a snowman making event. In the house she has a board asking for new ideas for programming. Her goal is to eventually have more programming that would be free to the public (or a nominal fee) in addition to the current programming she has. She also wants to incorporate the Cayuga Indian Nation history into her plan because the land originally belonged to them.
“When I grew up, we didn’t have much money and my mom, who was great, took us everywhere for free (parks) and that’s what I want to create for other kids and families,” she said, “so I want my funding for public programming to come from other things like grants or fee paid services, (which is on her future agenda). I hope to have a full business plan by 2020,” she said.