Written by Susan Frampton
Walking around the Living History Park truly feels like stepping back through time, and the surroundings encourage visitors to opt for a slower pace, if only just for an afternoon.
The members of the Olde Towne Preservation Association are all deeply invested and educated in local history, so they spare no thought when it comes to ensuring that the land and buildings be established and maintained with historically accurate practices as much as possible. Buildings are raised using traditional techniques, metal hardware throughout the property created in the blacksmith shop, and materials sourced either on-site or locally, re-using elements like barn flooring when possible. In every building, the details shine, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the experience, gaining a deeper understanding than they may acquire from a books and oral histories.
Right across from the well-stocked vegetable garden, there is a cabinet shop: beautiful, smelling like sawdust, and featuring the lathe wheel from the movie “The Patriot.”
Around the corner, the Mercantile offers period-specific goods for purchase, with the proceeds benefiting the park and its efforts.
Standing in the schoolhouse, one can feel the realities of life as a teacher living and working within the confines of a small space, and the villager’s cabin seems at once cozy and treacherous to those used to modern comforts.
Other popular buildings on the site are the Springhouse Tavern, with its rustic atmosphere encouraging revelry, and the church, situated next to a spring-fed creek that creates a most idyllic scene.
In addition to its use as an educational venue, the Living History Park is simply a beautiful site, and its charms have not gone unnoticed to savvy event planners in Augusta’s River Region. The beautifully designed barn, made of reclaimed wood and featuring a massive chandelier forged in the blacksmith studio nearby, is set up with a catering kitchen, bathrooms, and two-tiered event space, making it an ideal location for wedding receptions and other special events. Nearby, the historically accurate and often breathtaking on-site chapel is a prime spot for small nuptials, and the Association allows full rental of the park for those who want to take advantage of all of its offerings.
“History lives if you tell the stories.”
Though the Living History Park is open to explore from dawn until dusk every day, the buildings are typically open to the public during the park’s many highly-anticipated events. On May 4th and 5th, the Olde Towne Preservation Association will hold their annual “Under the Crown” event, which highlights the fact that the British once ruled this section of the country, and shares how life was during that time.
On October 19th and 20th, the Association will hold their most popular event, the “Day to Remember” weekend, which focuses on life skills and hardships from 1730 to 1785. For both events, the previous Friday serves as an education day for local students, and reenactors set up camp on the property for the whole weekend, walking around in period attire and creating an authentic atmosphere in the village. Scores of people come from all over the region to watch reenactors demonstrate lessons in pottery, weaving, quilting, blacksmithing, cabinet making, candle making, and more, while historical interpreters tell stories and answer questions.
Smaller events include gaming nights, dances, dinners for donors, and historical days on the last Saturday of every month except for December, allowing for people to interact with interpreters and gain deeper understanding about the daily lives of former North Augustans.
Visit ColonialTimes.us for more information.