- Published on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:30
- Written by Breanna Bright
At the Saxon Lutheran Memorial in Frohna Missouri, history is more than dates and textbooks; they believe in a hands-on approach so that their patrons can actually experience history for themselves. This outdoor museum features homes, cabins, barns, and shops from an era when Missouri was still being settled.
The Memorial itself was made an official museum in 1961, but the homestead has been around since 1820 when it was owned by Thomas Twyman. He sold the property to a pair of brothers who came from Germany. Weavers by trade, Wilhelm and Christian Bergt bought the farmstead from Twyman when they immigrated in 1839. Audrey Kennedy, one of the curators, says that many immigrants came for religious freedom. Concordia Historical Institute of St. Louis owns the site.
The original homestead is a small cabin settled in Missouri’s familiar hills, surrounded by peaceful countryside. Other buildings were added to the museum later on, including a Blacksmith shop, where a real blacksmith will put on demonstrations using authentic tools of the time. There is also a carpenter shop, as well as a leather and broom shop. Some of the other buildings are historic cabins of the same era that were moved in from neighboring towns.
One of the SLM’s biggest events is their Fall Festival held in October. The museum goes into full swing with vendors offering homemade crafts, demonstrations on blacksmithing, cooking in the museums authentic brick oven, hands-on activities, and more.
Kennedy emphasized the museum’s immersive experience. “There is lots of hands-on stuff you can do; kids can shuck corn, wash clothes on the washboard, or churn better. People can experience what our ancestors went through.” The best part is that this is all free. There's no charge for admission, though SLM is a nonprofit and is grateful for any and all donations.
The museum is open from March through November, but not to worry, because come Christmas time they open again to put on a live nativity scene. Taking advantage of the antique buildings, the SLM offers a guided tour filled with angels, shepherds, and of course the famous manger. Volunteer school children dress in costume and tell visitors stories of the nativity.
For more information, including tours, days, and times for visits check out the Saxony Lutheran Memorial website. You can also reserve the site for events - from weddings to group tours! Check out the Live Nativity on our calendar. It's December 20 at 5:00 p.m.
(Photo curtesy of Saxony Lutheran Memorial website.)