Posted November 17, 2016
(COLUMBUS, OH)–The U.S. Department of the Interior designated Ohio’s Zoar Village as a National Historic Landmark on November 2. This designation recognizes the property as a place that possesses exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Only around 2,500 sites in the nation share this premier status.
Located in Zoar, Ohio in Tuscarawas County, Zoar Village was founded in 1817 by German Separatists seeking religious freedom. The settlers of Zoar established an almost entirely self-sufficient utopian community that existed until 1898.
Zoar residents worked in a number of industries, including flour mills, textiles, a tin shop, cooper, wagon maker, two iron foundries and several stores. The Separatists also built a seven-mile stretch of the Ohio and Erie Canal. The canal traffic brought other people into the community, who bought Zoar residents’ goods. By the second half of the nineteenth century, the community was quite prosperous.
According to Office of Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel, Zoar was listed as a National Historic Landmark because it “expands the understanding of communal utopian societies in 19th-century America by representing a significant and distinctive community reflecting the traditional landscape design, architecture and way of life inherent in the Society of Separatist’s world view and beliefs.
“Many of the intact 19th-century buildings reflect medieval building traditions transplanted by its German-American settlers as well as their customs, traditions and religious beliefs,” she continues, “including their varying attitudes toward gender equality and the role of women within the social and economic organization of these communities.”
Zoar Village was a democratic commune. Zoar’s democracy also included equality for women, who were fully voting participants of the village.
Zoar Village exists today as a historic site that provides an authentic 19th century experience for visitors all over Ohio. The historic site intertwines living history demonstrations, interpretation of traditional Zoar crafts and life ways, and collectively illustrates the cultural way of life of the 19th century Zoar residents.
For information on programs and events at Zoar Village, visit historiczoarvillage.com or call 800.262.6195.
Zoar Village is part of the Ohio History Connection’s statewide system of more than 50 historic, natural and archaeological sites across the state. Zoar Village was founded by German Separatists in 1817 and thrived as a communal settlement for more than 80 years. Today, the village is home to approximately 75 families living in homes built from 1817 to the present. Zoar’s historic district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Zoar Village is located at 198 Main St. in Zoar, Ohio. Zoar Community Association manages the day-to-day operations of the site in collaboration with the Ohio History Connection.
Ohio History Connection
The Ohio History Connection, formerly the Ohio Historical Society, is a statewide history organization with the mission to spark discovery of Ohio’s stories. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization chartered in 1885, the Ohio History Connection carries out history services for Ohio and its citizens focused on preserving and sharing the state’s history. This includes housing the state historic preservation office, the official state archives, and local history office and managing more than 50 sites and museums across Ohio. For more information, visit ohiohistory.org.