Visiting Historic Westville is like taking your kids on a trip back in time to the mid-19th century. The grand opening of the re-located village was in June of this year and about half of the historic buildings present in the previous location have been moved to the new Columbus location on South Lumpkin Road. Even though the village is still a work in progress, the structures present are maintained to be as historically accurate as possible both inside and out. When we asked Cindy Bowden, Historic Westville’s museum manager, about her organization’s mission, she replied, “Through exhibits, live interpretations, demonstrations, and hands-on activities, you’ll be immersed in the history and spirit of the South and the personal experiences of those who called the Pineywoods home.”
A visit to the village starts at the Welcome Center, which is in the historic Thornton House. This building offers a gift shop filled with types of crafts common in the 19th century, such as woven baskets and pottery. Some of the crafts in the shop are made in the village by skilled crafters. After purchasing tickets at the Welcome Center, visitors proceed to the village on a stroller-friendly path.
Once in the village, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the historic buildings. The interiors of the buildings are filled with artifacts from the mid-19th century or historically accurate replicas. In many of the buildings, visitors who enter are given a tour by an interpreter dressed in the clothing of the time period. Plan your visit to allow enough time to tour as many as the structures as possible, as each tells part of the story of 19th century living.
Here are a few of the highlights of Westville:
Blacksmith shop: This a favorite of kids and adults alike. A skilled blacksmith, using historically accurate tools, demonstrates how blacksmiths made both everyday objects for household use and decorative pieces of art.
Clothing shop and boot shop:
These two shops provide excellent opportunities for kids to learn about skills and services of the time period. In the clothing shop, interpreters describe the pre-industrial 19th century process of turning raw wool and cotton into clothing. At the boot shop, visitors can view and touch examples of handmade footwear and observe the process of handcrafting footwear using tools and materials available in the mid-19th century.
Variety of homes from the mid-19th century:
Visitors to the village have the to opportunity to tour homes from the mid-19th century that reflect the differences in lifestyle between city residents and those who lived a rural, pioneering lifestyle in the countryside. Interpreters dressed in period clothing describe the activities of day to day mid-19th life for the family who occupied the home. Visitors to the Native American home learn about the creek culture local to the Chattahoochee Valley area and view examples of Native American crafts.
Buildings that were important to community life:
Tour the courthouse and the churches in the village to get a feel of what 19th century community life was like.
Schools and homeschool groups can arrange for a guided educational tour of the village. A Fall Festival event is planned for November 2nd and 3rd, and soon they will host family-friendly crafting workshops. Historic Westville does have volunteer opportunities for teens and adults interested in learning more about the mid-19th century time period and sharing it with those who visit the village.