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Kristen Dillard decorating Christmas tree in the 1910 farmhouse
Kristen Dillard decorating Christmas tree in the 1910 farmhouse Photo courtesy Sauder Village

Historic Sauder Village

This historic village, founded by Erie J. Sauder, opened in June 1976 as a non-profit living history museum and educational complex. More than 30 historic and craft buildings depict how life would have been in rural Ohio during the 19th century. Four of these are former homes of immigrants and early settlers, built between 1834 and 1910, that were moved to the site, then restored. Visitors progress from the earliest home, a simple dirt floor cabin, to a clapboard-sided log home. Through stories and demonstrations, costumed interpretative guides bring history alive. Artisans in eleven craft shops demonstrate trades of that period: glassblowing, pottery, gun smithing, silver smithing, spinning and weaving, broom making, woodworking, basket making, printing, and quilting. Their craft work is used throughout the village. The 250-seat Barn Restaurant was once a dilapidated barn, built by the Amish in 1861.

Although Ohio became a state in 1803, few permanent European settlers considered entering the damp, forested wilderness of northwestern Ohio, known as the Great Black Swamp, until the 1830s. In 1834, the first party of Mennonite immigrants arrived just east of Sauder Village to start a new life away from the religious persecution in their homeland. More settlers followed, and within 10 years, they had drained a large portion of the swamp which became among the state's best farmland.

Erie Sauder descended from those early European settlers. Like his grandfather, he became a woodworker. His company, Sauder Woodworking, is one of the world's leading manufacturers of "ready-to-assemble" furniture. At an age when other people consider retiring, Sauder conceptualized a recreated village where new generations of Ohioans could learn about the daily struggles and triumphs of their ancestors. The village, which is open from mid-April through October, each season hosts 100,000 guests of which about one third are school children.

Sauder was hands-on in the development of Sauder Village; he oversaw consulting, architectural and construction work, and went to sales to gather household items and farm tools left behind a century ago. During the 1990s, a campground and lake behind the village, and a 35-room inn were added. A Founders Hall was also built, which hosts community events, such as Toledo Symphony concerts, a six-day quilt show; a woodcarvers' show; a rug-hooking exhibition; a bluegrass festival; barbershop music concerts; doll artists' exhibits; and a Farm Days Festival. Traditional craft classes and a horsemanship are also offered at the village.

Documentation includes a 6-page written report, Sauder Village membership newsletters (three), seven color photographs, brochures, postcards, transparencies, a map, class catalogs, three videos, and a booklet, Erie and his Village.

Originally submitted by: Marcy Kaptur, Representative (9th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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