A prominent Dallas attraction, the Dallas Heritage Village is one of city’s the oldest parks. This site provides an interesting look at an era that shaped North Dallas in ways we can still appreciate today. The village consists of a town that is meant to showcase Dallas life during the period between 1850 and 1900. This popular attraction’s mission is to preserve Dallas’ unique cultural heritage though its many exhibits, structures, and immersive historical experiences. Each year the Heritage Village welcomes 50,000 visitors keen on exploring this historic site.
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The museum offers group guided tours, which cover approximately one third of a mile and take between 1.5 to 2 hours. Through this guided excursion, visitors can observe the 38 standing structures on display, allowing them to obtain an inside look at everyday life at the turn of the century. These structures include a farmstead, a Greek Revival-style mansion, and a log cabin to name a few. The experience sheds light on the economic and cultural activities that animated the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Furthermore, visitors are encouraged to actively challenge many of the assumptions about that era that often filter down through popular culture. For instance, while many Victorians asserted that women’s primary role was in the home as wives and mothers, the guided tour gives a more realistic picture of women’s lives. By exploring the structures on display at the village, visitors get a more well-rounded view of women’s lived experience in the late Victorian and early modern eras.
The facility offers a variety of educational opportunities for school-aged children. The village hosts field trips as well as special programs that both adults and children can enjoy. Children can explore the 20 acres comprising the museum in one of their Candlelight History Hunts. Alternatively, they can settle in for their Stories, Yarns and Fables program to hear tales about the region delivered by the Dallas Story Telling Guild. In the museum’s Texas, Our Texas program, children learn about Dallas history by delving deeper into the families whose homes are preserved at the village.
Using real family homes of the era, the village aims to demonstrate how daily life developed for North Dallas residents. Particular emphasis is placed on the many transformations that North Dallas went through from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. Originating from within the Plano, Carrolton, Cedars, and DFW neighborhoods, most of the structures have been moved to the village since its opening in 1969. However, the Rockhouse bathrooms, two of the administration buildings, and the curatorial buildings are on their original sites.
In the spring of 2017, the museum hosted an exhibit titled Log Cabins: Quilts, Houses, and Toys. There, visitors got a chance to see real quilts from the pioneer era that had been restored through a grant from the Quilters Guild of Texas.
Running from September 2016 to the summer of 2017 the Millermore Exposed exhibit allows visitors an inside look at the house previously belonging to the Miller family. The exhibit focuses on the way in which curators put together the furnishings and authentic artifacts for the home. These include pieces donated by the Miller family itself as well as other authentic period pieces purchased by curators to help convey the Miller’s story. A glimpse of the original structure, which is laid bare in the living room, antique Texas-made children’s furniture, and an authentic lariat constitute a few of the many highlights of the exhibit. Further, visitors can be photographed next to images of William and Emma Miller.
Though Millermore was the first building added to the village, there are several other family homes that represent the diversity that still resonates in modern day Dallas. The cabins of Daniel Sullivan as well as African American and Tejano families offer a complementary perspective on the history of the area.
In addition to the permanent exhibits, the village also hosts a few regular events such as the twice-monthly Old Time Music Jam. This event allows visitors to put on their dancing shoes and experience the rich and varied sounds of old-time music. This jovial musical style, which heavily relies on the fiddle and banjo, is often credited as being the pre-cursor to blue grass music. Originating in rural mountainous areas of the United States, it would have been a primary source of entertainment and community building for the original residents of the village.
The Dallas Heritage Village has much to offer its visitors in terms of both entertainment and education. From barnyard animals to costumed docents, there is much to see and experience at this distinctive Dallas landmark.
1515 South Harwood, Dallas, TX 75215, website, Phone: 214-421-5141
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