Whether you’ve visited Allaire two times or twenty times there’s always new things to learn. Here’s some fun facts you may not have known and might want to keep in mind the next time you stop by!
School- “I hate school!” Sound familiar? In 1836 going to school truly was a privilege, not a right! School was very expensive in the 1830’s (think college tuition today eek!). For the most part only boys, the wealthy, and the oldest son in the family would go to school. Being a middle-class industrial worker, or a girl? Forget about it. However, the Howell Works’ owner, James P. Allaire was a forward thinking guy and truly believed that a sound education was the foundation for a successful career and life. So…he paid for all children in his village to go to school…boys AND girls! And that truly was a privilege.
The General Store- In 1836, the Howell Works’ General Store was the largest store in New Jersey. People would travel from around the state by stagecoach or carriage to shop at Allaire (think the Freehold Mall, today). In addition to being a store, it also served as the Apothecary and the Post Office!
Signs- Ever noticed the pictures on the signs outside some of our buildings? They’re not there just to make them look pretty! A large percentage of Allaire’s workers were immigrants, coming from places like Ireland, Germany, and France. In addition, very few of them were literate. The pictures on the signs helped point out what shop/building was which. Also, since all children at Allaire were educated, they were usually the ones teaching their parents how to read!
Games- Everything served a purpose, including toys! Games and toys in the early 19th century were often used to teach a lesson. Games such as Hoop & Stick (pictured) and Graces were designed to make young ladies more graceful. (Funnily enough, we usually look very clumsy!) Also, keep an eye out for our Climbing Bears in the Carpenter Shop; they were used to teach kids how to milk a cow!
Let’s Party!-While Christmas season at Allaire usually means dancing and caroling, this wasn’t necessarily the case in 1836. Christmas was mostly a somber affair with long church services and little revelry. Surprisingly, George Washington’s Birthday was the holiday that everyone looked forward to. Come February 22nd, school and work were shut down and people got ready for feasting, singing and a Birthnight Ball!