Thursday, June 03, 2010

Gog & Magog at Greenfield

Besides Edison's complex (see yesterday), there are plenty more historic structures at Greenfield, roughly organized into themes or "historic districts" such as "Main Street" and "Working Farms" and "Porches and Parlors," which are historic houses. In one place or another on the museum's 240 acres, you'll find a roundhouse, a windmill and a covered bridge; barns and waterwheels; a machine shop, gristmill, printing office, tin shop and glass shop. There's also a church, post office, tavern, riverboat, bicycle shop and courthouse. The bicycle shop happens to be the one that the Wright Brothers owned, and the courthouse one in which Lincoln did some lawyering. The homes of Ford, Edison, Noah Webster and Robert Frost are on site as well.

We saw a fair number of these things, but of course there was much we didn't. One day was clearly not enough to do the place justice. Luckily, we didn't miss some of the highlights, and I don't just mean Edison's workshop or the Wright Bros. place of business. I mean the likes of Gog and Magog.

The figures are perched above the entrance of the re-creation of Sir John Bennett's establishment. Sir John was a noted Victorian clockmaker, dead by the time Ford had his shop moved from London and reconfigured in Dearborn in the early '30s. The Depression was on, so I suppose pretty much everything was for sale, including entire buildings, if the price was right. In any case, Sir John's shop has come a long way from the smoggy climes of Victorian London. The odd thing is why Ford wanted it here, since most of Greenfield is distinctly American.

Gog and Magog strike the bells every quarter hour. They're the British Gog and Magog, not the end-of-days Gog and Magog, and are associated with the giants reputed to roam ancient Albion (before shorter Britons took over, presumably). They're the traditional guardians of the City of London. A long-winded explanation of that connection is at the Lord Mayor's Show web site.

As for the building, the Greenfield web site says: "In 1931, Henry Ford had the original five-story building trimmed down into a smaller two-story building. Except for the clockwork and a few parts of the building front, the building itself and its interior were created in Greenfield Village. Today it serves as a sweet shop."

Note the dragon weathervane up top. I'm pretty sure I've never seen one of those before. It's a little hard to see in my pic; a better one's here, plus a description: "The dragon — made of hammered copper and detailed with sharp claws, taut bat-like wings and a fiery tongue — is a quiet masterpiece of design, craftsmanship, and balance. Its swept wings and extended tail are designed to catch even the slightest breeze; its head is weighted with lead in order to balance the body and allow for free pivoting."

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