Operated by the Ohio History Connection, the Ohio Village was a recreated 1860s town made up of nineteen different structures situated around a town square. Originally opened in 1976 with a mix of third person interpreters and artisans who created and sold period craft, in 2001 the Village closed to general public access, due to major state funding cuts.
A 2011 internal study found a strong desire from the Central Ohio audience to re-open the Ohio Village to the general public. In order to ensure its success this time, the Ohio Historical Society determined it would have to operate on a completely different model. Staff in the Educational and Outreach division of OHC developed the Ohio Village Timeshare Program to transform the village into a living community of invested volunteers who live in the village Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Through the timeshare program, the OHC staff wanted to create a believable community representing the Civil War years by using volunteers that adopt historical personas and share the experience of 1860s Ohio with the public audience. OHC removed the valuable artifacts from the buildings and replaced some with reproductions to provide an up close and personal approach to life in the past. This allows a cost-effective way to provide public access to the village and a quality immersion experience for the visitor.
The Ohio Village timeshare consists of people who live and work in their timeshare building as often as they like during the season, treat it as their home, keep it clean, do the necessary daily tasks, and invite guests in to develop a real sense of community that would reflect the life and times of Ohio during the Civil War.
After re-opening as a timeshare, the daily audience of pre-school day care, families, summer camp and senior citizens returned to the Village. All were encouraged to join in the daily chores of cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, harvesting, and just sitting down in the shade of a tree to share the latest gossip about the war, neighbors, and the country.
The timeshare residents share with the visitors their fears, joys and concerns about the war over a cup of coffee, around the table, seated in the yard shelling beans, or helping take inventory in the General Store. This human side of history helps visitors experience life 150 years ago, sparking discovery and understanding of themselves, the past, and its connection with the present.