High on my list of historic sites I have wanted to visit for sometime now has been Allaire Village. In May we rode our bikes to it, but did not stop. In 2011 we went to it as part of the NJ State History Fair, but did not see any of the exhibits or go inside any of the buildings. It was my birthday and I invoked the birthday rule: the birthday girl gets to decide what to do and no one else can complain about it (this doesn't always happen, but I try).
Allaire Village is free to attend, but during the tourist season, there is a fee to park. We thought about parking a few miles away and riding our bikes in, but I was tired from the duathlon, and Ashley was tired from a sleepover. We paid the $5 parking fee instead. As a wine festival was also happening there, we might have been closer had we parked and ridden our bicycles to Allaire. Wine festivals are extremely popular, even in a place that was once owned by an ardent teetotaler.
The downside to the place (in my opinion) is that they will not allow you to take pictures inside. Really? It was a day so my outdoor pictures turned out well, but it was also super crowded (see note about the wine festival) so taking pictures without people in it was a challenge -- one Ashley was willing to help me with.
Allaire Village is an early 19th century (1822-1855) self-contained village where iron was produced. Even I am starting to feel, you've been to one of these places, you have been to them all. I kept wanting to compare it to Upper Canada Village, which depicts 1863 Canadian life. Upper Canada Village won in all categories from friendliness to photo ops to knowledge gained. They only lost on price (UCV charges a fee).
We toured the house the Allaires lived in. It was a very fancy house for the time. Our guide was excellent. She kept quizzing us on our knowledge (how can we tell a wealthy family lived here -- by the number of windows and doors, and running water; which chair would a woman sit in and why -- the one without the arms because her dress would never fit in the other chair; why was the family bible kept near a window -- in case of fire so the bible (with all of its records) could be saved, etc.).
The first building was a bunch of houses, like the row home where we used to live in Trenton, but the inside was opened up making it hard to tell where one began and one ended. The way it was cut up, even using the one house as an example, it was hard to compare its shape and size to our Plum Street home because no one is allowed to walk inside of it, only peer in from a side. It threw off the perspective.
Next time I need to take better notes, or write blog posts sooner. There was much talk about the person who bought Allaire Village and bequeathed it to the state (?) to become an historical site. Unfortunately neither the Allaire Village website nor (gasp) Wikipedia has the information I am seeking.
Overall, if you are in the area, it is worth a detour of an hour or so, otherwise, not worth it unless there is a special event happening. With that said, the haunted tours happening next month do sound cool.