Thursday, May 22, 2014

Exploring the 1850s in Westville

I am a huge history nerd. HUGE. I have a degree in history, I read historical research books for fun, I used to work in a historic house museum and give tours in costume, and if you say "living history museum" a la Williamsburg, I am SO there.

One weekend we were bored and looking for something to do, so Fionn suggested driving out to Westville, an 1850s living history park. I like costumes and old stuff...why not?

Westville is supposed to be a step back in time to an 1850s frontier town. They have houses (complete with characters just kicking it inside, which makes you feel a bit like you're intruding), the old county courthouse, a church, farms, stores, and even a school. The buildings are all period accurate and appropriately furnished and were brought from around the area to complete the park. 

The park started to preserve the traditions of rural Georgia life. It's also cool way to show the younger generations the resourcefulness of these rural frontier people.

The day we went was a lovely spring day, and the park was mostly deserted except for a few schoolkids and their parents and the occasional costumed towns person going about their business. Fionn and I skipped the guided tour and meandered through the houses. 

Fionn and I both studied history in college, so he's a good partner to have for history nerd outings like this. All my early America classes on architecture and material culture and daily life came flooding back as we wandered around, and he patiently listened as I prattled on.

He's good like that :)

Exploring Westville made me very grateful I was born in the 20th century rather than the 19th. It was a simpler life, but also dirtier and harder. I wondered what my life would look like as a woman in 1850s Westville. How many kids would I have had already? Would I have worried about Indians or crop failures or sickness? Would Fionn or our sons end up fighting in the Civil War a few years down the road? What would our story have been? 

See, I told you. History nerd.

After a long time exploring, we headed home, thankful for cars and air conditioning and dresses that didn't require corsets and layers of petticoats. Overall, a fun trip back in time.

Are you in West Georgia and interested in seeing the 1850s come alive? Check out Westville online or visit it yourself at 9294 Singer Pond Road in Lumpkin, GA.


  1. That's such an awesome place to visit - I love those steps back into history, imagining what it would have been like. In general, I'm also pretty glad to be living now and not then!

  2. I love history as well and I think I took more history classes than psychology as an undergraduate:) Looks like a fun day outing if I were living nearby!

  3. I went a couple of times in elementary school, and each time I came away so curious about history! I'm so glad to see it's still trucking along. Westville is the bomb {or if we're getting really elementary school—}. I absolutely love this kind of stuff too; probably because I had such imagination-sparking experiences as a kid.