Bronya Joanis demonstrates how to play graces.
By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Anyone who has ever driven on 109 through Medfield has driven past the Peak House. For years, this house has welcomed third grade classes and history-lovers alike to explore the 308-year-old dwelling. During the summer, visitors are invited to see the house on Sundays.
But on July 7, visitors were treated to a new way to explore the Peak House.
Awaiting guests were a family of reenactors dressed in colonial garb that the Peak House’s original residents would have worn. Steve, Bronya, and Eli Joanis played their roles perfectly. Steve introduced modern-day Medfielders to the experiences of colonists during the French and Indian War. A crowd gathered to watch Steve as he prepared and shot off his musket, complete with accompanying commands.
"Prime and load!" to load the musket.
"Make ready" to ready the musket.
"Take aim" to aim the musket.
Finally, "Fire," to shoot.
Eli and his mother, Bronya, were ready to teach visitors all about the different games people played during the Colonial and Revolutionary eras. Shut the box consisted of flippable numbers that worked like tabs from the Guess Who board game. Players would roll the dice and flip those two separate amounts - or the combined amount of the two - until they had no numbers back or couldn't flip the allotted amount.
Kids and adults all enjoyed graces, a game that was played by women and children at the time. Each player took two sticks and crossed them to make an X. One player would then place a hoop over the sticks and by uncrossing them, flip the hoop off. The other player would then try to catch the hoop.
All of those playing luckily avoided accidentally tossing a hoop into 109.
Along with a new roof, the Peak House now has a brand-new herb garden. Michele Feinsilver-Hoye has spent the last year researching, finding, and planting these different herbs. The garden bed in front of the Peak House consists of English herbs that would have been grown in the 1600s and 1700s. Just a few feet from the house is a Native American herb garden.
“I was like an early settler, turning and turning in my garden,” joked Feinsilver-Hoye. With 59 different herbs, she has taken great care learning how to make sure each one flourishes - not to mention how to use them once they’ve grown.
The comfrey plant, for example, was taken from the original Peak House garden planted in the 1980s. Comfrey was used by early settlers to salve broken bones, heal wounds, and reduce swelling. Other herbs in the two gardens were used for everything, from from medicine to fabric dye to food additives.
With all its new additions, the Peak House is sure to become a favorite summer attraction for locals. More than ever, it resembles the original house built in 1651.
Colonial enthusiasts, take note: the Peak House is better than ever.