The September 9-15, 2012, issue of American Profile magazine, a weekly supplement that comes with our local newspaper, the Salem Times-Commoner, has a cover article by Lisa Zhito entitled “History Comes Alive” about five attractions which preserve our nation’s cultural heritage.
1. The first is Jamestown Settlement near Williamsburg, VA, where America’s first permanent English settlement, founded in 1607, is recreated in a comprehensive living history museum located adjascent to the Historic Jamestown archaeological site. We have been there and seen it, and I loved it–along with the Yorktown Victory Memorial and, of course, Colonial Williamsburg, which was my all time favorite vacation.
2. The second is Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park at Lafayette, LA, a heritage park located on the banks of the Bayou Vermilion where southern Louisiana’s Cajun, Creole, and American Indian roots are recreated.
3. The third is Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, a 200-acre park where the focus is on immersing visitors in mid-19th-century Indiana. We have also visited here and think that Conner Prairie is fantastic!
4. The fourth is Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill near Harrodsburg, KY, once home to 500 Shakers, America’s longest-lasting communal religious society which flourished in the mid-19th century from Maine to Kentucky. We have visited Ft. Harrod in Harrodsburg but not Shaker Village, which is America’s largest restored Shaker community, although it has long been on our list of sites we would like to see.
5. The fifth is Pioneer Living History Village at Phoenix, AZ, a 92-acre outdoor educational museum that preserves pre-statehood Arizona by focusing on the state’s territorial period of 1863-1912.
Of course, these kinds of living history museums could be multiplied by the hundreds, but these five would make good starting places to gain a better understanding of our nation’s history.