Work in a One-Room Law Office

A one-room, freestanding law office from the late 1700s, now at Old Sturbridge Village, Mass. Photo credit: L. TripoliA one-room, freestanding law office from the late 1700s, now at Old Sturbridge Village, Mass. Photo credit: L. Tripoli
The one-room law office at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts includes a desk, a bookcase, and a fireplace. The office as that of John McClellan, a Connecticut attorney who began practicing law in the late 1700s. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

The one-room law office at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts includes a desk, a bookcase, and a fireplace. The office as that of John McClellan, a Connecticut attorney who began practicing law in the late 1700s. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Attorney John McClellan, who was admitted to practice law in the 1780s, worked in a one-room office building that is now accessible at Old Sturbridge Village, Mass. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Attorney John McClellan, who was admitted to practice law in the 1780s, worked in a one-room office building that is now accessible at Old Sturbridge Village, Mass. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Who Was John McClellan, and Why Is His Office in Old Sturbridge Village?

A desk, a fireplace, and a bookcase full of volumes of American Jurist mark the 1796 office of lawyer John McClellan of Woodstock, Conn. Acquired by Old Sturbridge Village, Mass., in the 1960s, the law office is accessible to those visiting this historic site. I like the idea of a freestanding law office staffed by just one lawyer. Anyone practicing here couldn’t help but know all of his clients.

Attorney John McClellan's desk on display at Old Sturbridge Village, Mass. McClellan practiced law in the late 1700s and 1800s. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Desk space was at a premium even then: Attorney John McClellan’s desk on display at Old Sturbridge Village, Mass. McClellan practiced law in the late 1700s and 1800s. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Born in 1767 in Woodstock, McClellan died there 91 years later in 1858. He attended Yale College, graduating in 1785. He was admitted to the bar of Windham County in 1787 and began practicing law in Woodstock.  In 1796, McClellan married Faith Williams. In 1807, he served as a moderator of a meeting of the town of Woodstock, Conn. He also served on the board of directors of the Windham County Bank located in Brooklyn, Conn. In 1809, McClellan observed a new advancement: wagons with four wheels, pulled by a horse.

What would visitors of the future be able to divine about your practice if your office becomes a museum exhibit?

—Lori Tripoli

Old volumes of American Jurist on display at the law office of John McClellan at Old Sturbridge Village, Mass. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Old volumes of American Jurist on display at the law office of John McClellan at Old Sturbridge Village, Mass. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Interested in lawyers and the practice of law throughout history? You might like these posts:

Where is Old Sturbridge Village?

What would visitors of the future be able to divine about your practice if your office becomes a museum exhibit?

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