By Ohio.org Staff
Posted On: Dec 7, 2021
History truly comes to life at Ohio’s Sauder Village
Stepping back in the past has never been more captivating than at Sauder Village in Archbold. Travel from 1803 to 1928 as the past is brought to life in front of your eyes. The largest living history destination in Ohio, Sauder Village contains more than 50 historic homes and community shops. As you weave through the family-friendly stops, which take you from an 1803 Native American settlement to the Roaring Twenties, you can talk with historic interpreters and experience firsthand how our way of life had changed through the years.
It’s easy to create memories here. See your child delight in meeting the farm animals. Take a train or buggy ride around the village. Talk with costumed artisans demonstrating authentic crafts or watch delicious meals cooked from centuries-old recipes.
Since it opened in 1976, the Sauder family has been dedicated to making sure generations of families return home from Sauder Village with a lifetime of memories.
Out of the Past
Start your exploration of Sauder Village with a journey to what the area would have looked 200-plus years ago when it was the Great Black Swamp. The Natives & Newcomers area recreates life from 1803 through 1830. Step inside a wigwam or teepee to see what living conditions were like then and help with chores. Just a few minutes of grinding corn will make you grateful for the ease of cooking today. Inside the nearby trading post, learn how many beavers a wool blanket will cost you, explore the pages of trader logbooks and study the dozens of animal pelts on display.
Down the dirt road, the Pioneer Settlement captures what life was like for the first European immigrants in the region in 1830 through the 1870s. Check out the Witmer-Roth Home — an 1844-era house with a rhubarb garden and outdoor oven — and help your costumed guide prepare food gathered from the garden and churn butter. A large family lived in this small home, with the heat coming from the kitchen below. Smell the fresh-baked pies as they’re cooked over the fire and imagine growing up in such close quarters. Next, head toward the big red barn, past the old jail and stop at the 1870s era Peter Stuckey Farm. Inside the clapboard log house you'll learn about the family’s wagon-making business and how to make the tastiest jars of apple butter.
Be sure to notice the subtle changes of life at each stop, such as what the beds are made of!
Next, make your way down the newest addition to Sauder Village, the 1920s Main Street. At Rich Ford Auto Dealership and Gas Station, you can get up close to an authentic 1920s Ford automobile. See if you can guess where the gas tank is! Study old county maps at the Ohio Farm Bureau Office, or peek at the vault hidden behind steel bars at the Farmers & Merchants Bank next door. At the Soda Fountain and Pharmacy enjoy a refreshing Black Cow or Red Cream Soda phosphate, then wander to other shops to learn about the jewelry, haircuts and fashion of the Roaring Twenties. Take a rest at the Main Street gazebo before hopping aboard the Erie Express train for a scenic ride through the property.
On your way back toward the front of the village, don’t miss the 1920s Grime Homestead. Greet the goats in the barn and then head inside the beautiful Grime house. Enjoy the sitting room accompanied by a player piano or head down to the basement for a glimpse into the canning process from a century ago.
Traditions Live On
Along with experiencing a century’s worth of history, take a stroll along the craft circle to see how everything from buckets and brooms were handmade in the past. At Erie’s Farm Shop, discover where Sauder Woodworking got its start before making your way into the Sauder Cabinet Shop — where you can admire a plethora of woodworking tools. Talk with a broom maker and discover how brooms are made by hand. Watch basket makers craft unique works in the Basket Shop and see reproductions of 1700s-1800s tinware produced at the Tinsmith’s Shop. Be amazed at how the coopers craft buckets and barrels using centuries-old methods before stopping in at Anna’s Spinning Shop and Barbara’s Weaving Shop to witness spinners and weavers turning fibers, rags and threads into functional works of art.
Inside Brush Creek Pottery, you’ll meet resident potter Mark Nafziger. His ceramic styles range from traditional to contemporary. “My shop represents the long tradition of pottery. Potters 1,000 years ago, potters 300 years ago and potters today are all making work that reflects the needs of the time,” Nafziger says of his work, echoing the mission of the entire village. While history is filled with change, some traditions live on.
Step into the heat of Mark Matthews’ glass blowing studio, Burlington Glass Works, and witness Matthews working on one of his internationally acclaimed glass creations.
Massive and intricate presses inside the W.O. Taylor Printing Office showcase how newspapers were printed at the turn of the 20th century. Milling grain into flour was a crucial step in providing food for families since earliest history. Learn about the story of milling at the water-powered gristmill.
Find more nods to history through the village. Stop by the Main Street Confections Candy Shop to learn about — and eat — the candies of the 1920s. You’ll find Charleston Chews, Bit-O-Honey, Twizzlers and more. Near the craft circle is Lauber’s General Store, where shelves are stocked with unique toys, penny candy and homegrown herbs. Threads of Tradition Quilt Shop offers fabric bolts, kits, books and tools, along with hand-quilting demonstrations.
Step inside the Barn Restaurant, a 150-year-old restored barn, for lunch or dinner. The menu is brimming with home-style cooking, like real mashed potatoes and homemade soups. Savor mouth-watering roast beef and chicken dinners under the glow of iron and glass chandeliers. Spread apple butter or pumpkin butter — both village-made favorites — on a homemade roll from the Doughbox Bakery next door. Be sure to save room for a slice of pie — whether it is peanut butter cream, apple, cherry, raspberry cream, Dutch peach or three dozen others made at the Doughbox Bakery. A favorite of the locals, the bakery is filled with heavenly smelling breads, muffins, cookies, coffee cakes and sweet rolls — all baked fresh daily. Take home a whole pie to enjoy.
Two centuries worth of experiences is a lot to pack into one day, so make your visit a weekend affair. The Sauder Heritage Inn, a 98-room country lodge, features an indoor pool and waterfall, live plant atriums, a hot tub and exercise rooms — the perfect home base for all adventurers. The inn is decorated with the work of artisans from the village. Gorgeous handmade quilts hang on the walls. Wrought iron made by the village’s blacksmith decorates the lobby and wood carvings are on display. Each room is adorned with Sauder furniture, which you can purchase at the adjacent Sauder Store & Outlet.
Another option is camping at the 87-site Sauder Village Campground. Just a short stroll away from the historic Village, the campground features individual fire rings for evening storytelling, along with a bath house with showers, restroom and laundry facilities, and 50 amp hook-ups. Play a family-friendly game of basketball or shuffleboard, cast off for fishing fun or cool off on the splash pad.
Whether you stay overnight or come for the day, be sure to take a stroll through the 31 acres of wetlands on trails that let you admire wildflowers and birds. It’s a glimpse into what the entire region once looked like 200 years ago when it was known as the Great Black Swamp.
Sauder Village is a great getaway for couples, families, or grandparents with kids. There is something for all ages to enjoy. Make the past part of your future with a trip to Sauder Village.