Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
It’s possible you’ve lived in Lancaster County your whole life, perhaps driven by it, or went to its next door neighbor, Hands-On House Museum, and still have no idea Lancaster’s premier colonial village even exists! At least that’s what one of the moms on my daughter’s 5th grade field trip said. Similar to Colonial Williamsburg, but on a smaller scale, Landis Valley carefully interprets life on an early Pennsylvania German farm. The museum’s artifacts span the years between 1740 and 1940, weaving the story of German immigrants and the impact they had on the commonwealth state. With a hundred acres and a myriad of historical buildings to explore, there is plenty to keep you busy for the day.
Upon arrival we started at the Visitor’s Center (where you purchase your tickets first), and we were ushered into a small auditorium and had the opportunity to view a short film on the background of the farm and museum, helpful to give you a point of reference before exploring the grounds. Afterwards we split up into small groups and were given a certain amount of free time to take a self-guided tour of the various buildings. The historical buildings (some original and some transplanted there or reconstructed) have varying functions such as the farm house, a blacksmith shop, a tin shop, a schoolhouse and a gun shop. Several have costumed interpreters giving demonstrations and answering visitors’ questions. Our school group also paid extra to participate in a special workshop, of which there are several to choose from. We had a “One Room Schoolhouse” experience where the students got to pretend they were in school in the mid 19th century, complete with a stern school master, small slates, and old-fashioned lessons. Everyone got a kick out of this, and the students all participated very eagerly. Definitely an eye-opening experience, taking hands-on learning to a whole new level!
Besides the schoolhouse workshop, some of the highlights for my group included the tin shop, the farm house, and the country store. The tin shop showcased all manner of handicrafts made out of tin, from the functional such as tools to the decorative such as Christmas ornaments. The interpreter was an actual tin craftsman and her knowledge and eagerness of her trade really drew the kids in. Listening to her talk you would think maybe her other job was an auctioneer as she rattled off her spiel so fast it blew our minds! In the farmhouse we were able to tour the authentic original home of the Landis family, dated from the mid 1800’s. The tour guide engaged the girls, asking questions and getting them to think about why they set their home up the way they did. We were interested to learn children were never allowed in the formal parlor…sounds like a great idea we need to reinstate. The country store is set up to mimic a shopping trip in the 19th century, complete with tiny post office in the back corner. Many small items line the shelves, and the group had fun pointing out interesting things they found.
Another fun component of the museum grounds are the many animals located throughout the premises, everything from horses to sheep, geese, and cows, giving Landis Valley a true farm feel. We were even able to take a horse-drawn wagon ride around the village! Due to time constraints on the field trip, we were not able to visit all the buildings. Other workshops such as “Wool to Weaving” and “Tossed Treasures” are located in buildings we did not tour, and of course there is a museum store where you can purchase souvenirs. For those of you who like to learn as much as possible, there is an option to take a “Cell Phone Tour” while you tour the village. Simply call the assigned phone number and enter the stop number when prompted for a one-minute recorded message of information about the building you are viewing. Another great component of your tour is the option of a scavenger hunt for children featuring “Wasser” the Landis family dog! Pick up a corresponding paper at the visitor’s center and the kids will have a blast reading each clue and searching for the answers on special placards on various buildings throughout the village.
Landis Valley raises additional income by hosting private parties and events such as weddings. Three lovely venues, the “Firehouse,” the “Yellow Barn” or the 1856 Landis Valley Hotel can hold your indoor event in addition to using the beautiful grounds as a backdrop for an outdoor event.
All children should have the opportunity to step back in time and see what life once was in “the old days.” Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum gives you the most comprehensive view in the Central PA area. Make sure you take the time to make the trip!
This is one of the sites you can get a free family pass to see through the Lancaster public library. Chances are you will be on a waiting list and will need to be sort of spur of the moment when one becomes available, but it may be worth a try!
|Seniors (65 and up) and AAA rate||$10.00|
|Youth (ages 3-11)||$8.00|
|Ages 2 & under||Free|
Hours: 9AM-5PM Tues.-Sat., 12 noon-5PM Sun. (check website for off season hours)
Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
2451 Kissel Hill Road
Lancaster, PA 17601
See www.landisvalleymuseum.org for more details and to check out their events!