Mystic Seaport visitors are always commenting on the authenticity of the Museum’s village. Many believe this is how the grounds things looked in the 19th century. Well, it’s not. Most of the buildings are authentic, but have been brought in from other lcoations. For example, the Buckingham-Hall House was originally located on the Connecticut River. The land was being cleared for a bridge to be built and the “Buck” was in danger of meeting a wrecking ball. Museum officials swooped in and managed to save the home and had it transported to Mystic Seaport on a barge before putting it in its current location.
In fact, did you know that the current village grounds were originally home to a working shipyard? The Greenman Brothers Yard previously stood on part of the land the Museum sits on. The three brothers owned homes that are still on the grounds, one of which is open for visitors to explore. The road Mystic Seaport is located on is commonly known as Route 27. Locals, however refer to it as Greenmanville Ave. The three brothers had such a prominent business and influence on the community that this area of Mystic was even called Greenmanville! The Mystic area in general was a prominent shipbuilding community with more than a dozen shipyards lining the shores of the Mystic River during the nineteenth century.
Old photographs, stories and written materials can tell you about what Mystic was like in the past. However, Mystic Seaport has a much better option to offer.
Perhaps the Museum’s best kept secret is the Mystic River Scale Model. To better enjoy the Museum or absorb the deep history of the Mystic area, make the Scale Model your first stop on your next (or first) visit.
Arthur Payne, was the “imagineer” that created the Model. He began his work in 1958 and he continued to work on his little “Mystic” until his death in 2006 . He would often refer to the model as his life’s work.
There was a short hiatus in construction when funding had run out, but Arthur continued sketching and researching. In 1986, he began volunteering his time of about 30-40 hours a week in the model and countless other hours at home sketching, researching and constantly perfecting every minuscule detail.
Though Arthur was never able to finish the model before his passing, his legacy continues to live on. Volunteers work hard to maintain the integrity and perfection that he strived so hard to maintain. Even his daughter, Anny, comes to lend a hand in the small world to carry on her fathers dream.
The model is scaled to 3/32′, which is equivalent to one foot. It’s hard to imagine having to etch, carve and paint such delicate detail
The famous clipper ship David Crockett can be seen on the river along with other boats that were original to the area. Main Street (which runs straight through downtown Mystic) still has the famous drawbridge. However, instead of the bascule bridge that sits there now (with large weights to assist in opening it,) a bridge that is attached to an oxen team is in its place. The oxen would pull the bridge open to allowing ships to pass through. On the shore, real life is depicted among the houses. People are going about their daily business and animals are even shown roaming fields.
The volunteers painstakingly look over every “little” detail, including the small animals, details on the houses and the people in the model. Even the boats are rigged accurately and show incredible detail and workmanship.
Yankee Magazine featured the Mystic River Scale Model in its September 2008 issue. For a slide show of other images not shown here, please visit http://www.yankeemagazine.com/slideshow/mystic.php.