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"The Deerfield Renaissance" from New England Magazine
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This 1905 account nicely profiles the Arts and Crafts Movement in Deerfield, Massachusetts, despite the author's tendency to dramatize and romanticize the town's Colonial past. At the turn of the 20th century, Deerfield had gained increasing renown as an "Arts and Crafts centre," which the author saw as a departure from its well-known legacy of Colonial wars and hardship. She credits "this change from antique interest to modern influence" primarily to the efforts of Margaret Whiting and Ellen Miller, cofounders of the Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework. At the same time, the author saw the town's thriving arts and crafts industries as an outgrowth of its Colonial handcrafts traditions, noting especially the embroideries in Deerfield?s Memorial Hall Museum, created by "those brave, patient women" who left behind a "peaceful old life" and had come to Deerfield with a "wild, new life before them." The account also shows that Deerfield was beginning to recover from its late-19th-century economic slump -- one hand-stitched table cover was being sold for eighty dollars, quite costly at the time. The emphasis by Deerfield's artists and crafters on high standards in design and execution led to a number of regional and national awards, and Deerfield-originated designs were duplicated across the country.
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