Closest to home is Hale Farm and Village in Bath — an outdoor living history museum giving visitors a taste of what life was like on the Western Reserve during the 19th century. Enjoy farm animals, pastures and historic houses with historical interpreters dressed in period costume, along with all sorts of special programs like Dinner with Abraham Lincoln; the Civil War Reenactment Ball; the Civil War Encampment & Reenactment — when thousands flock to Hale Farm & Village to hear the sounds of battle, smell the gunpowder and shake hands with President Lincoln (and even shop for a hoopskirt); and Pioneer Festival Weekend, when visitors “rough it” as they experience historic civilian pioneer life, meet War of 1812 soldiers, and learn about pioneers and Native Americans coexisting during this period of time.
The history of Hale Farm and Village goes back to 1810, when Connecticut farmer Jonathan Hale arrived in the Western Reserve. Hale had $1,250 of assets remaining after a friend was unable to pay debts that Hale had guaranteed. With that money, he bought 500 acres of land. Upon his arrival, he found a squatter on his land. But since he respected the work the man had done on the property, rather than ousting him, Hale gave him a horse and wagon in exchange for his work — hence, began Hale Homestead.
In 1825, Hale began construction on a large, red brick house using materials from his property. When completed, it was one of only two brick homes in the Cuyahoga Valley. Three generations of the family have lived in this house and farmed the property. Today, Hale Homestead is a working farm with 32 buildings, including the new Gatehouse Café and a Museum Store, offering unique souvenirs and gifts from baskets and brooms to bayberry candles and blacksmith wares that are locally made right at Hale Farm.
From June through August, Hale Farm and Village is open Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. General admission is $10 for adults and seniors; $5 for children age 3-12; and free for children 2 and under.
Go to www.wrhs.org/index.php/hale or call 330-666-3711 for a schedule of events or for more information.
If you’d like to venture a little further from home, head to Schoenbrunn Village in New Philadelphia. The Moravian church founded Schoenbrunn (which means “beautiful spring”) in 1772 as a mission to the Delaware Indians. The settlement grew to include 60 dwellings and more than 300 inhabitants who drew up Ohio’s first civil code and built its first Christian church and schoolhouse.
Though problems associated with the American Revolution prompted Schoenbrunn’s closing in 1777, Schoenbrunn’s story features a rare meeting of Indian and European cultures and a fascinating perspective on the American Revolution. The reconstructed Village includes 17 buildings, gardens and the original mission cemetery, along with a museum, visitor center and picnic area.
Schoenbrunn Village is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays 12-5 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults (museum and park); $4 for children 7-17; and free for kids 6 younger. For more information, call 800-752-2711.
Yet another part of the original Connecticut Western Reserve, Burton is home to the Century Village Museum — Geauga County Historical Society’s showpiece living history site. Here you can walk through 100 years of Geauga County history, beginning with the 1798 Umberfield Cabin and ending with the 1872 schoolhouse. In between, you’ll see vintage barns, a blacksmith shop, an 1846 church, the Crossroads store, an 1878 train station, the Marshall’s office and five furnished historical homes. Seventeen historically significant structures have been moved to or reconstructed on this site, joining six others that were originally located here. The buildings house more 20,000 artifacts. Expansion of the site seems likely since another 60 acres of land has been acquired and 10 additional buildings designed and built to support the Society’s activities.
A stroll through the Century Village is a great way to spend a summer afternoon, and in the fall, check out the 63rd Annual Apple Butter Festival held on Oct. 8 and 9 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Century Village is at the intersection of routes 87 and 168 and is open March through November. For more information, including admission prices, call 440-834-1492.
Heading west to Bellevue, you’ll find the Historic Lyme Village, which depicts life in the Firelands from the arrival of the first settlers in the early 1800s through the early 1900s. The Village got its start in 1972, when the Historic Lyme Church Association (now the Historic Lyme Village Association) was founded to preserve the history of Lyme Township and the surrounding area. The association expanded and started the Historic Village when the Seymour House was going to be destroyed unless it was moved.
Among the buildings in the Village are three log houses, the John Wright Mansion and Carriage House (a Second Empire Victorian on its original location, listed on the National Register of Historic Places), two barns, a woodworkers’ shop, a general store, Schug Hardware, Groton Town hall, a shoe shop, Merry one-room school, Detterman Log Church and the John Seymour House (an 1836 Greek Revival House once used as a stop on the Underground Railroad). The Village is also home to the Schug Hardware Museum and the National Postmark Collectors Museum and Research Center. Special events include Native American Heritage Days, Pioneer Days, A Night at the Village, Victorian Christmas Dinners and Christmas of Yesteryear.
You can reach Lyme Village by heading west on the Ohio turnpike to exit 110 and then going south four miles on State Rt. 4. The Village is open for guided tours June through August, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Allow at least two hours to complete the tour. For more information, visit www.lymevillage.com.
In the southern part of our state, culture comes to life at Sunwatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park in Dayton. The Park is a partially reconstructed Fort Ancient period American Indian village along the Great Miami River. Excavations at this 13th century (yes, before Columbus had even discovered America!) village exposed a planned, stockaded Fort Ancient period settlement with astronomical alignments that was likely occupied for about 20 years. Due to its significance, the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and became a National Historic Landmark in 1990.
In 1988, after 17 years of excavation and research by the Dayton Society of Natural History, Sunwatch opened to the public. The years of excavation at the site, combined with additional analysis and research, have resulted in a remarkable understanding of the site’s original inhabitants. Sunwatch currently combines experimental archaeological research, including the reconstruction of the Fort Ancient structures in their original 13th century locations, with an interpretive center that exhibits many of the artifacts that have been recovered from the site. The village reconstruction includes five lath-and-daub structures with grass thatch roofs, portions of a stockade, and a native garden and prairie with plants typical of the period. Activities include guided group tours, festivals, overnight programs and special events like the Native Americans’ 23rd Annual Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow on June 25 and 26.
The Village is open year round Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 12-5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults; $3 for seniors (60+) and children 6-17; and free for kids 5 and under. For more information, go to www.sunwatch.org or call 937-268-8199.
Writer/travel agent Linda Murfin, CTC, has been telling people where to go for the past 38 years at Above The Crowds Travel & Meeting Planning. She loves to play golf, travel and cook with hubby Don and spend time with their grandkids.