Living History Museums: Alabama to Iowa


LIVING HISTORY MUSEUMS: Alabama to Iowa Reprinted by permission from "Country Living", c. 1993 by the Hearst Corporation. This list of notable Living-History museums across the U.S.A. appeared as a series of articles in Country Living (April, May, and July 1993). This list is organized by state and then by city name. Enjoy and happy travels! ======== ALABAMA Constitution Hall Village 301 Madison Street, Huntsville 35801 (800) 678-1819. E-mail: The site of the 1819 drafting of Alabama's state constitution. Constitution Hall Village offers children single-day "Pioneer Adventures" or more intensive five-day "Apprentice Adventures." While dressed in 19th-century-style clothing, kids explore such tasks as open-hearth cooking, candle dipping, spinning, and wooden toy making. ======= ALASKA Eklutna Village Historical Park 16515 Centerfield Dr., Suite 201 Eagle River, AK 99577 (907) 696-2828 Email : Dating back to 1650, Eklutna is the oldest continuously inhabited Athabascan site in south-central Alaska. The Eklutna cemetery contain "spirit houses," small, colorfully decorated structures built over graves to shelter the deceased' spirits. Two domed Russian Orthodox churches, dating to the 1830s, when missionaries first arrived in Alaska, are located at the village as well. Native Village of Alaskaland c/o Fairbanks Native Association, 201 First Avenue, 2nd floor, Fairbanks 99701 (907) 452-1648 Native American Alaskans guide visitors on walking tours of the village's sod dwellings, plank houses, and other housing structures of the native cultures of Alaska. ======== ARIZONA Pioneer Arizona 3901 West Pioneer Road, Phoenix 85027-7020; (602) 465-1052. Email: Spanish horses, whose ancestors were re-introduced to North America in 1493 during Columbus's second voyage to the New World, are now raised and protected at Pioneer Arizona. A collection of 20 authentic and reconstructed 19th-century buildings reflects the influence of Arizona's founding Native American, Spanish, and Mexican cultures. ======== ARKANSAS Arkansas Territorial Restoration 200 East 3rd Street, Little Rock 72201; (501) 324-9351. E-mail: Restored by the WPA in 1939, this surviving portion of the original city of Little Rock re-creates frontier Arkansas life from 1819 to 1870. Costumed docents interpret Little Rock life based on the memoirs and documents of historic inhabitants. ======== CALIFORNIA El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument 125 Paseo de la Plaza, Suite 400, Los Angeles 90012; (213) 628-3562. In 1781, 44 settlers established a farming community that grew into El Pueblo de Los Angeles, which was later to become one of America's most populous cities. Twenty-seven buildings, including the c. 1818 Avila adobe (the oldest surviving home in Los Angeles) and a circular c. 1825 town plaza, reflect the city's Hispanic, African-American, Chinese, French, and Italian heritages. La Purisima Mission State Historic Park 2295 Purisima Road, Lompoc 93436; (805) 733-3713. Surrounded by more than 900 acres of protected woodland in California's state parks system, La Purisima's grounds are planted as they were during the 1820s, when the mission was most prosperous. Converse with docents in the colloquial language of the 1820s, and practice weaving, candle-making, and other crafts. If visiting in autumn, partake of an evening candle-light tour of the 11 restored adobe-style dwellings. Mission San Juan Capistrano 31882 Camino Capistrano #107, San Juan Capistrano 92675; (949) 234-1300. Email: Established in 1776 by Franciscan padres, the mission includes the c. 1777 Sierra Chapel, the oldest continuously inhabited building in California; a museum featuring Native American history displays; and a Moorish-influenced courtyard. The mission and grounds are part of an ongoing archaeological excavation and preservation program. ======== COLORADO Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site 35110 Highway 194 East, La Junta 8150; (719) 383-5010. Email: beol_interpretation@nps Blacksmithing, adobe making, and frontier medicine applications are some of the various yet regular features of this reconstructed frontier fur-trading post. ======== CONNECTICUT Mystic Seaport and Maritime Museum 50 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic 06355-0990; (860) 572-0711. Nineteenth-century tall ships and schooners are moored at the 17-acre Mystic Seaport and Preservation Shipyard on the Mystic River. Along with a maritime museum containing antique navigational equipment and a planetarium with programs explaining how navigators used the heavens to determine their position at sea, the restored seaport village hosts seasonal activities, historic demonstrations, and exhibits. ========= DELAWARE Delaware Agricultural Museum 866 North DuPont Highway, Dover 19901; (302) 734-1618. Email: During the museum's "Summer on the Farm" session, children learn the chores of a rural farming community, including feeding livestock, churning butter, and cooking on a wood-burning stove. During the "1850s One-Room Schoolhouse Program," lessons are read from the McGuffey Reader, an old-fashioned primer, and arithmetic is calculated on a slate. Hagley Museum and Library P.O. Box 3630, Wilmington 19807; (302) 658-2400. Located along Delaware's scenic Brandywine River, the Hagley Museum and Library has preserved the history of the E.I. du Pont family (founders of DuPont) and its role in 19th-century industrialization. The 230-acre site includes the family's c. 1802 Georgian mansion and gardens and the buildings, workers' quarters, quarries, and hydroelectric plant of the original DuPont Co. gunpowder mills. Demonstrations are conducted by costumed guides. ======= FLORIDA Historic Saint Augustine Spanish Quarter P.O. Box 1987, Saint Augustine 32085; (904) 825-6830. Dating back 465 years, historic Saint Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in America. The Spanish Quarter's restored and reconstructed buildings and gardens re-create life during the Spanish colonial era of the 1740s. The nearby Castillo de San Marcos fortification, which once protected Spanish colonial settlers and treasure galleons en route to Europe, is open for touring. ======= GEORGIA Agrirama P.O. Box Q, Tifton 31793; (912) 386-3344. Combining c. 1890s teaching techniques with today's education curriculum, Agrirama hosts a one-room schoolhouse program for grammar-school children. The 95-acre Agrirama includes 35 restored buildings, representing traditional and progressive farming communities and industrial sites from post-Civil War Georgia. Westville Village P.O. Box 1850, Lumpkin 31815; (888) 733-1850. E-mail: Interpretive craftspeople demonstrate brickmaking, blacksmithing, and other crafts from pre-industrial 1850s Georgia at this re-created 60-acre farming village. ======= IDAHO Pioneer Village and Idaho Historical Museum 610 North Julia Davis Drive, Boise 83702; (208) 334-2120. To trace the history of Idaho and its people, the Pioneer Village and Museum have relocated and restored log cabins, adobes, and turn-of-the-century residential interiors. ======== ILLINOIS Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site R.R. #1, Box 244A, Petersburg 62675; (217) 632-4000. Email: While co-piloting a flatboat down the Sangamon River in 1831, young Abraham Lincoln stopped at New Salem and later settled there to study law. Today, Lincoln lore and legend permeate New Salem's attractions, from a repertory play based on the life of the 16th President to a summertime storytelling festival. ======== INDIANA Conner Prairie 13400 Allisonville Road, Fishers 46038; (317) 776-6000. The 205-acre Conner Prairie features three historically accurate areas complete with costumed interpreters. Prairietown, an 1836 Indiana village with 29 buildings; the 1823 Federal-style brick home of William Conner, a 19th-century politician and land developer; and the Pioneer Adventure Area, where visitors try soap-and candle-making, weaving, wood carving, and other farming activities. Historic New Harmony 506-1/2 Main Street, P.O. Box 579, New Harmony 47631; (812) 682-4488. E-mail: Fleeing religious persecution in their native Germany, the Harmonie Society, a group of Lutheran Separatists, arrived in Indiana in 1814 and spent the next 10 years establishing a self-sufficient, utopian community. Today, interpreters host educational and theatrical programs in and around the 15 restored buildings on the property. ======= IOWA Living History Farms 2600 N.W. 111th Street, Urbandale 50322; (515) 278-2400. Email: This 60-acre, open-air museum traces the history of Midwestern agriculture from a 16th-century native Iowa village to an 1850 pioneer homestead to a contemporary farmstead. Pella's Historical Village 507 Franklin, Pella 50219; (614) 628-4311. E-mail: Experience the customs of the Netherlands at Pella's historical Village. A werkplaats (clog maker's shop), a Dutch bakery, a gristmill, and 18 other restored turn-of-the-century buildings have been re-assembled on this five-acre site. ============ Reprinted by permission from "Country Living", c. 1993 by the

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