Ohio Village: 1862 in 2012
One of my favorite childhood memories is going to the Ohio Village. I remember visiting the hot, smoky blacksmith's shop, smelling the rich tanned skins in the leather shop, and playing with wooden hoops and stilts.
When the Ohio Village reopened this summer to Ohio History Center guests after many years of being a special-events-only destination, I eagerly took Lil. My friend Kate (don't miss her blog about foraging and simple living) and her son came along with us.
The Village represents a small town several miles from the 'big city' of Columbus in the year 1862. Shops, offices, and homes are furnished with pieces common to the Civil War era. Volunteer reenactors introduce visitors to the tools and trades of the time.
We visited the school building where Lil drew on a slate and noticed the very few books children could read. At the tailor's house, the kids practiced washing dishes in an outdoor sink and later did laundry at the German immigrant's home. They investigated the bed made of a straw mattress on a rope frame.
Lil and I tried on lengthy dresses in the dressmaker's shop and were glad that fashion of today isn't so stifling. A reenactor at the ladies seminary taught Lil how to 'speak' the language of the fan. The uncrowded village allowed kids to explore at will.
I enjoyed looking at the gardens around the property including apple trees, a grape vine patch, a large heirloom garden and smaller herb patches. They are historically accurate and include vintage plant varieties like tobacco, dill, and beans.
I wished the printer and blacksmith's shop were open but understand that with a volunteer staff, we were lucky to see what we could. Lil did not miss what wasn't open. She learned words like 'ledger' and 'chamber pot', though she is too young to understand the context of the Civil War era. She advises other kids: "I think that the Ohio Village is a nice place because it's just interesting to see things in the past and it's really fun to play in all the houses and go to the school."
If you go:
- Bring snacks or lunch to enjoy in one of the covered picnic areas. No food is available for sale in the Village, though there is a small snack vending machine inside the Ohio History Center.
- Restrooms (with modern toilets) are available in the hotel.
- Dress for the weather - authentic to 1862, most buildings do not have heat or air conditioning.
- Consider a membership to the Ohio Historical Society. They offer discounts for many occupations and organizations. The very affordable membership gains you entry into museums and sites around the state.
- Parking is free most of the time. If there is a special event or during the Ohio State Fair, a parking fee may be charged.
- Visit Wednesday - Sunday before September 2. Hopefully if enough of us attend this summer, the Ohio Historical Society will open the Village every summer.
Ohio Village at the Ohio History Center 800 E. 17th Ave. Columbus, OH 43211