Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lighting History Took Place at the Rabbit Hill Inn...a neat story

Tin Smith at Old Sturbridge Village
Hello there,
Thanks again for joining us. If this is your first time, welcome! Glad you are here! Hope your visit is enjoyable.

As many of you may know, my husband and I spent a wonderful and magical second honeymoon at the Rabbit Hill Inn in northeastern Vermont in August.  It has a great history which is briefly described on their website.  The story I am going to discuss is something I learned there, where they have a more involved history written out with many pictures  for the guests to look through in one of the very friendly and comfortable common rooms.

One of the stories goes to the effect of that when the ballroom was built in the mid 1800s, they were going to open it with a dance ball extravaganza.  It seems no expense was spared and beautiful chandeliers were ordered from Europe.  Within a certain time frame close to the grand opening of the ballroom with this lavish party that was supposed to take place, these expensive European-crafted chandeliers didn't seem like they were going to appear on time.  Well, going to Yankee ingenuity, they had chandeliers locally crafted from tin.  They were liked so much by the people who attended the ball that the owners decided to keep them. Kind of like the business phrase, "You snooze, you lose" for the imported lighting.

One of these tin chandeliers is still in existence today on the grounds. I was so intrigued by the story and being that guests are quite encouraged to explore the grounds, my husband and I set about to find it. Well, that we did, but I won't tell where-so if you have the opportunity to go to Rabbit Hill Inn, you can look for yourself. I do provide a picture and much more insight into it though here! I did some research on lighting from Old Sturbridge Village (a living history museum) in Massachusetts. The time period they portray reflects much of the time frames of the Rabbit Hill Inn history.  There is some neat stuff coming up here!

Here is the remaining tin chandelier that once hung with similar ones at Rabbit Hill Inn in the ballroom.
Rabbit Hill Inn ballroom chandelier
 You can click on these photos to see them larger. Of course these would have used candles  and probably would have had some type of rope or cord to lower and raise them for lighting the candles, as well as for adjusting the height of the chandelier for whatever practical purposes they would have had then.

Rabbit Hill Inn ballroom chandelier

The chandelier turned out more sophisticated looking than I thought it would be. I did think that the tin may have looked dull at the time though and wondered about it. Also, I had to realize that I was looking at it from the point of view of my lifetime and not what it would have looked like to the people who only knew candle light and simpler things.  Also, how many everyday common people would have been used to the multiple candles in a grand ballroom, which probably had other things to help set off the lighting such as a few mirrors. Candlelight adds such a nice aura to an occasion also! But at Sturbridge Village, I discovered more!

Reproduction chandelier crafted at Sturbridge Village tinshop.
In the tinsmith shop, I saw a chandelier there which was no where as elaborate as this chandelier .It was a reproduction which was crafted by the tinsmith.  It also wasn't shiny like the one at Rabbit Hill Inn.  Click on the picture above to see a bigger view.  I told the tinsmith about the Rabbit Hill chandelier story and he pointed out that tin is very shiny when new. See the lanterns in the picture below and how shiny they are!
Those are new! Imagine the Rabbit Hill chandeliers being that shiny new and having the candlelight reflect off of them! Must have been very pretty!
See how shiny these new lanterns are!
A View of the Tinshop

Just a bit more insight from a lighting history display at Old Sturbridge Village.
The person who started Old Sturbridge Village in the 1920s collected all types of lighting which is now on a display at the village. I included photos of some of the lighting that come from around the time period of Rabbit Hill Inn.  Also are some original tin chandeliers which definitely look they are not as well preserved as the one at Rabbit Hill Inn.  And last there is a photo of an image taken from what a ball would have looked like in Europe in that time frame. Click on any photo to see a larger view.
Other early lighting from similar time period made of wood and metal.

Early tin chandelier in center
A smaller tin authentic tin chandelier 

Last but not least, you can see an image of how lighting may looked if they used the fancy European chandeliers at Rabbit Hill Inn. The next photo is of an image they took from a ball taking place in Europe. You may find that the time period is somewhat different than at Rabbit Hill Inn and Old Sturbridge Village, but it gives the basic idea. I suggest that you click on this picture to see the detail better because there was some reflection on the image from my camera flash. If I can get back there I will take a better shot and post it here.

I'd like to thank you for joining me on this little journey through history. I love looking at things trying to see how things were through the eyes of the people, who lived the history, in their everyday lives.

Hope you are having a wonderful day. Please come back again. I would love your comments. If you can add to this in any way please feel free to let me know.  I want to make any posts like this accurate and more interesting.  If you like this blog, please feel free to follow it or share it!

Thank you,
Mary Ellen


  1. Hi Mary Ellen!
    Great post on Sturbridge! I love history too and I especially enjoy meeting new blog friends... Thanks so much for your visit today with note and for following... I look forward to coming back here too see what you're up too as well!
    Happy almost fall!

  2. That was wonderful!! Thank you for such an interesting and engaging write-up... I thoroughly enjoyed it!! :)))

  3. New follower via blog hop hoping you will follow us back at thks in advance xx

  4. wonderful post, sounds very beautiful ;o)