Hale Farm and Village
Walking through the Hale Farm and Village, visitors can hear the clanging of a blacksmith's hammer, feel the heat of a glassblower's kiln, and smell freshly cut timber from a woodworker's shop. The Hale Farm and Village is a living outdoor history museum that educates visitors about daily life in the nineteenth-century Western Reserve. The farm and village contain a collection of restored structures, including a church, log schoolhouse, law office, and several craft shops. In 1957, the Western Reserve Historical Society received the Hale Farm as a donation from Clara Belle Ritchie, the great-granddaughter of the farm's first owner Jonathan Hale. In the 1950s, the farm consisted of an 1825 brick home and surrounding outbuildings. Rather than risk the loss of her family's home and history, Ritchie offered the property to the WRHS on the condition that the society preserve the farm as a museum dedicated to local history.
Together, the Hale farm house and village testify to the nineteenth-century Western Reserve experience. At the farm house, visitors learn about the personal struggles and triumphs of Jonathan Hale and his family. The surrounding village presents additional aspects of life in the 1800s, including different forms of civic and religious participation. The church, for example, illustrates the importance of religion in the daily lives of Cuyahoga Valley settlers, while the land office teaches visitors about the area's immigration and financial history. Unlike the historic villages of Old Salem and Williamsburg, the Hale Farm and Village is a conglomeration of buildings moved to the site to represent significant elements in public and private nineteenth-century life.
In the later twentieth century, historians and history museum educators became increasingly concerned with representing the lives of ordinary people, rather than exclusively the rich, powerful, or famous. Museums like the Hale Farm and Village exemplify this more recent approach to history, which justified the preservation of a home and property that represented neither a grand form of architecture, nor the site of a famous man. The Hale Farm and Village, instead, emphasizes the interpretation and recreation of daily life, including family and community.