Lawn Ornaments, the history of our front yards

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August 24, 2016 by kittynh


Flamingos were not always plastic!

The outdoors ,for many, is as important for self expression as the indoors. This is very apparent at the current special exhibit at the Cheshire Historical Society in Keene NH on the history of lawn ornaments.


Now this is a fun home.  Only I have never understood the woman bending over to show her undies!  I so want the squirrel and the ducks.

There is still time to visit the Cheshire Historical Society to view their delightful exhibit entitled “Gnomes Vs. Flamingos”.  The history of lawn ornaments may seem like an odd choice for a historical society special exhibit, but what we put on our front lawns says a lot about our society.


Plastic Flamingos are not from Florida

Let’s face it, we all know that one house where the Halloween decor is so spooky little children won’t trick or treat there.  Plus there is the problem, or delight, of the home where someone just could not stop buying.  I once lived next to a house that had not just one but TWO full sets of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

The exhibits display various lawn ornaments through the history of the Keene area.  Included are lovely vases and ornaments made by a local company.  Lawn display items supplemented the other products produced.

The lawn flamingo has a history firmly rooted in New England.  Leominster Massachusetts is known as “Plastic city” because of the production of plastic products that took place.  While the pink lawn flamingo reminds many of us of Florida, it is a New England product.  The exhibit featured many other lawn products manufactured in New England, including many I’d love to be able purchase today.  I especially liked the plastic carrots you could hang from your tree for Easter.  Also the little ducks all in a line.


this ladybug may seem modern, but it’s a WWII helmet repurposed into a lawn ornament

My own home has more than one, perhaps even more than five, cement rabbits decorating various spots.  My lake cabin has more than a few ornaments that my daughters claim they will enjoy “throwing in the lake” after I pass.  I’m fine with it, as the ornaments should always reflect the owner. It should be noted my one daughter bought gnomes for her yard that look like Star Trek characters.  You can tell a lot about who owns a house by what they put in their front lawn.


sometimes the lawn ornaments come with the house!

If you are in the Keene area, pop in for a delightful visit with what some would call “tacky”, but I like to think of as “lawn self expression”, at the Historical Society on Main Street.


Also featured is the sad history of the hitching post.  Even in New England, a Black jockey as your hitching post was not unknown.  It’s only been recently that people have repainted or pulled these out of their front lawns.  Even for historic value, I think respect for the Black community means these belong in museums, not on our front lawns.

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