The Frontier Culture Museum is a one a kind museum that tells the story of the diverse cultures that came together on the frontier. It is a joining of the old world tradition to create an entirely new culture. Located in the city of Staunton, Virginia this museum is a great way to spend several hours learning about history from the knowledgeable interpreters who are located in each of the recreated areas.
Most of the buildings located in the museum are real, having been moved here from the old world. Many of them were saved from destruction and preserved for future generations to enjoy.
Tickets are purchased at the Visitor’s Center. There is a small museum there and an 8-minute film that will familiarize you with what you can expect to find in the museum. There is a lot of walking involved I seeing everything that this living museum has to offer. There is a shuttle that makes the rounds, be sure to pick-up a map at the Visitor Center so that you can locate everything, including the shuttle stops and the restrooms. If you prefer, for a charge you can rent your own golf cart.
The West African Farm is the first stop. Be sure to watch your head as you go through the low gate into the compound. This is the home of one family, a man, and his two wives. Each of the wives has her own home and the man has one as well. The interpreters will provide information about which house belongs to which family member. The majority of the slaves who were brought to Virginia were from Nigeria and members of the Igbo tribe. This compound could have been the home of any one of them.
England is the next stop with a visit to an English yeoman’s farm house from Worcestershire. It includes not only the house which is two stories but a small stable and some animals. The cow was particularly vocal. There were three girls in the home working in the kitchen who are happy to talk about their chores and those of the rest of a yeoman farmer. The majority of English immigrants to Virginia came from the English Countryside between London and Bristol. The cottage dates from the 1630’s.
Next stop is the Irish Forge from County Fermanagh. The interpreter is fanning his fire to keep it red hot while he makes a trivet. He then hammers and shapes the glowing piece into the shape he wants. The shop itself is over 260 years old and was in the possession of a family by the name of Elliott for generations.
Down the road, you will find the Irish farm. It is from County Tyrone in Ulster. Over 100,000 Scotch-Irish came to the new world from the settling of the colonies until the American Revolution. Among the families were the Jackson’s from which President Andrew Jackson came.
The last stop in this part of the museum is the German Farm. The house has a very productive garden and was originally from the southwestern area of Germany. It has a very interesting chimney type stove that warms the room it is in very nicely. Cooking is done here several times a week with items from the garden.
Now it is time to move to the American part of the museum. It is rather a long walk so you may want to wait for the golf cart shuttle if you haven’t rented one. There are farms covering the 18th and 19th century. It is interesting to note the evolution. The first house is quite small and rustic and as time went by, they become much larger and more elaborate. There is also a school house.
By this time you are probably exhausted or maybe not. We were and we didn’t spend as much time in the American area as we did in the earlier part. We will need to come back again and start the tour in reverse. A two-day visit is recommended and if possible come back often; there are always different things going on and lots of new things to learn.