Opened in 2002, Liberty Corner was built to be an interesting and unique agricultural-themed site for guests. Set in 1886, fifty years after Prairietown, Liberty Corner gave guests a glimpse into life in a small farming community in central Indiana during the later part of the 19th century. By showing the changes in technology wrought by the Industrial Revolution, Conner Prairie used the site to help guests contextualize their own lives in light of the Victorian era’s sensibilities and social situation. As the site evolved, it featured occasional Weekend on the Farm immersive overnight programs, where guests took on character roles, stayed in the farmhouse overnight and helped with chores on the farm. This experience morphed into a daily Farmhands experience, where guests could take part in the work of the farm alongside our stellar staff.
I was in the first training class for Liberty Corner way back in 2002, and I can honestly say that I’ll miss the 1886 time-period and the storylines told there. Below are a few fond memories that I’ll take with me. I encourage you to share your memories as well!
• The sharp smell of lamp oil on a crisp and snowy winter morning as I opened the doors of the bank barn with Weekend on the Farm guests to throw down hay for Buttercup, our Jersey milk cow.
• The bucolic baseball field filled with the happily inept White River Base Ball club batting around with guests, snugly hugging a vibrant tree-line; red covered bridge perched jauntily overlooking it all.
• Looks of wonderment on faces as children spy the bearded lady near the Tent of Wonders at Country Fair.
• Sweat pouring down my face as I master the art of scything wheat and then teach a group of teenagers the finer points of the European-style straight snath scythe.
• Excited bucket-brigades of 4th graders, tromping out to water potatoes and leafy tomato plants in the expansive kitchen garden.
Even though I have a few melancholy reminisces as the site closes, I am thrilled that Conner Prairie is taking the important step of rethinking the physical space and devising an even more exciting and impactful experience that will take Liberty Corner’s place in 2011. From the beginning, Conner Prairie planned for the Liberty Corner space to be a changing time period, with 1886 as merely the first of many eras that we could showcase for our guests.
While construction commences at that site this month, I encourage you to come out to Conner Prairie and enjoy the same types of experiences you had at Liberty Corner at the Golden Eagle in Prairietown (where we’ll feature daily chores and animal interaction) and at the tent behind the balloon at Clowes Common (where you can enjoy the newest Museum Theater piece- “Exploring the River of Wind”, with show times at 11am, 1pm and 2:30pm daily). Also, look for the return of the popular Liberty Corner activities at Country Fair
in September, when the Agricultural Improvement Society Fair will be relocated to the Farm Heritage field and the Tent of Wonders, historic Base Ball
, midway games, the Temperance Tent and the Hard Times Theatre Company will be back in action for the event. Of course, Prairietown, Lenapehoking (Lenape Indian Camp), the Conner Homestead
, Animal Encounters
, Science Lab
, 1859 Balloon Voyage
, Discovery Station
and Craft Corner
will still be providing the same great experiences you expect.
As Liberty Corner fades into the twilight of the past, look to the daybreak of new experiences on the horizon!
My first visit to Conner Prairie was on an elementary school field trip in the ‘70s. I was mesmerized! I begged my parents to bring me back for my birthday that summer, and they did. I still recall how captivated I was seeing history right before my eyes, speaking with people from 1836!
Twenty-five years later I found myself living in Hamilton County with three young children and visiting Conner Prairie on a regular basis. I am happy to say that my children love it as much as I do. Having a membership allows us to visit frequently for short periods and we always enjoy the respite from the hustle & bustle of modern life.
One evening at Headless Horseman
, I went into the Apple Store
for treats and came out a member of the Conner Prairie Alliance. I had never heard of the Alliance, but I joined on the spot, a decision that I have not regretted. The Alliance is a group of women who are passionate about Conner Prairie and plan fundraising activities to help support the museum. It’s great to have the opportunity to contribute my efforts to something so close to my heart.
Our primary fundraiser is the Apple Store. I’m not sure if most people realize that the Apple Store is not run by the museum. We are open for nine weeks in the fall and staffed entirely by Alliance members. We purchase the products, stock the shelves, run the registers, freeze the slushies and dip the caramel apples. (And in case you have not had one, they are the best caramel apples on the planet!) We do it all. In the past two years, we have donated $140,000 to the 1859 Balloon Voyage
, all proceeds from the Apple Store.
What I didn’t realize when I joined the Alliance is all of the wonderful friends that I would make. Yes, we work hard during Apple Store season but we have great fun while we are doing it. And throughout the year, while we are planning and working on our committees, we enjoy each others company. We are an eclectic group, but share many common passions aside from Conner Prairie including quite a few foodies, several ladies who participate in a book club, and a contingency of avid hikers. We are young moms and seasoned grandmothers but together we are the Conner Prairie Alliance.
For more information about the Conner Prairie Alliance, visit our webpage: Conner Prairie Alliance.