Jan 03 2012
One of our family’s favorite types of museums is the living history village. Places like The Landing in Shakopee, Minnesota, Bonanzaville in West Fargo, North Dakota, Farmamerica near Waseca, Minnesota, or even my tiny hometown’s historical complex give us the opportunity to step back in time and experience the buildings and communities that my great-grandparents lived in.
Cassville, Wisconsin, has such a site at the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Stonefield Village. My grandmother took me to Stonefield when I was a girl, so it was a treat to take my own children there.
We started with a guided tour of the Governor Nelson Dewey estate, across the road from the rest of the complex, and then moved on to the village, which is accessed by walking over a covered bridge.
While the village itself is made-up, its buildings are authentic and came from various locations near Cassville. From homes to businesses to community buildings, Stonefield has excellent variety in its little town. My kids loved the ice cream parlor and saloon, while I found the creamery and funeral home to be interesting. Stonefield has a millinery shop, photography studio, general store, doctor’s office, and other businesses that were common in small towns in the late 1800′s.
Most of the village of Stonefield is accessible as a self-guided tour, but select buildings have living history interpreters providing guided tours at certain times during the day. For children, there is a challenging scavenger hunt that takes them throughout the village finding historical items, some of which are commonly known, and others that are more obscure.
Stonefield also includes an agricultural history museum that was my husband’s favorite. The entrance building houses a barn with agricultural implements, and another large farm museum building houses ag exhibits.
Cassville, Wisconsin, is just across the Mississippi River from Iowa, and Stonefield is an easy day trip from Dubuque, Iowa. On our return to Iowa from Cassville, we took the Cassville Car Ferry across the river, which was an adventure in itself.
Like the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Circus World Museum, we found Stonefield Village to be an interesting, educational, and enjoyable history lesson.
Stonefield Village is open during the summer and early fall. Hours and admission information can be found on its website.
Have you been to any living history villages? Which is your favorite?