This main museum building features an impressive collection of Shenandoah Valley artifacts in chronological order dating mostly from the early 1700s to the 1920s. A 1536 Bible from Switzerland, the centerpiece of the collection, connects the history of the area’s early settlers to their European culture, decorative arts, and search for religious freedom. This building was constructed with the original logs from a local early 1800s bank barn.
1870 – 1884
This is one of the oldest African American one-room schoolhouses surviving in Virginia. It was moved here for preservation from its original site one mile away. Although it was mostly attended by children of varied ages and grades, it also provided education for adults. Most of the furniture is original as are interior walls which contain the signatures and scribblings of the students. A wood stove kept the winter chill at bay with the help of cloth scraps tucked between the chestnut boards on the walls.
This typical Valley two bay log “Switzer” barn was built by Israel Burner on his Shenandoah River farm in Overall, near Luray. It was painstakingly reconstructed after being moved in pieces to the museum site and now houses the Heartpine Café. Log barns were once common in this area but are now rare as many were burned during the Civil War.
Corn was a staple crop in the Shenandoah Valley for centuries. For preservation, corn for livestock was stored above ground in a detached building called a corn crib. This chestnut log building was moved here intact from a farm outside of Lynchburg, Virginia. Although they were once present in almost every farm very few of these buildings survive in present times.
This quaint three story house is a rare surviving example of a town house from the colonial Shenandoah Valley. Originally located in downtown Woodstock, Virginia, it was taken down for the construction of an apartment complex. It is known as the Willy Cabin due to its most prominent resident, Reverend Bernard Willy, a Swiss Reformed Lutheran minister who lived in the house from the late 1780s to 1810. Colonial period cooking demonstrations are occasionally held in the downstairs kitchen.
Blacksmithing was a vital part of everyday life prior to 1900. Most iron tools and implements in households, farms, wagoning etc. were made by a blacksmith. This chestnut log building was moved intact from a farm near Lynchburg, Virginia. Blacksmithing demonstrations and festivals are held at the village on occasion.
Late 1800s – 1901
This is the original farmhouse on the property owned by the Shenk family from 1899 to 1974. The back of the house was built first with a bigger addition built in 1901. The barn and other farm buildings also date from early 1900s. Still in original condition this house needs restoration and is not currently open.
This chestnut log building was built in a traditional way with materials salvaged from abandoned historic structures. These include foundation stones, chestnut logs, recycled tin, etc. It houses a collection of post-Civil War farm and general store items reflecting the agricultural heritage of the Shenandoah Valley.
This yellow pine log house “Belleview” was built by local farmer Reuben P. Bell for his family at Kimball Springs near Luray. The structure was carefully moved piece by piece to its current site, coincidentally owned by the same family in the 19th century. The log walls were covered with siding and plaster several years after the house was built. Reuben Bell served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1859 to 1861.
This heavy timber frame and brick structure served as a Mennonite and Dunkard meeting house at the Mill Creek community in Leaksville, Page County. It was moved three miles in one piece to the present site. During the Civil War the building served as a shelter for both Union and Confederate soldiers as attested by their signatures on the interior walls.