In 1810 Jonathan Hale purchased 500 acres from the Connecticut Land Company for land located in the Cuyahoga Valley. This portion of the country was referred to as the Western Reserve, an area defined by the south shores of Lake Erie to the 41st parallel, just north of Canton Ohio. And from the western Pennsylvania border 120 miles to the west, close to Toledo. In June, of that same year, Jonathan made the 646 mile trip to his family’s new land. The trip lasted 28 days and upon his arrival found a squatter living in a cabin on the property. He traded this squatter his horses and wagon for the cabin and began clearing the land. Shortly after, he sent for his wife and children to make the trip and join him on their new farm. Over the course of the next 150 years three generations of Hale’s lived on and worked the land in the Cuyahoga Valley.
In 1956 Clara Belle Richie, great granddaughter of Jonathan Hale, bequeathed the family’s farm to the Western Reserve Historical Society. It was her wish that “Hale Farm is to be established as a museum so that the greatest number of persons might learn about the history and culture of the Western Reserve.”
Initially the museum consisted of the furnished family home “old brick” and a barn displaying old farm equipment. Within the first year hundreds of school children and general public alike came to visit and experience the Hale family’s tradition of farming in the valley and learn about the traditional crafts of spinning and weaving. The museum was more successful than imagined and thus began the transformation of the farm into a living history museum.
As the interest grew there was a need to expand upon the experience of the western reserve, and the idea for a historic village took shape.
Over the course of the next 30 plus years historic structures were moved to the property to provide the stage for not only preserving the history of the Western Reserve but to offer galleries space so that the general public could see hundreds of collection pieces kept by the western reserve historical society.
Today the site consists of 34 historic structures including 8 built by three generations of the Hale family.
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