Let imagination be your guide at the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village!
With all eyes on Buffalo’s rapid resurgence, sometimes it’s nice to slow down, take a step back and commemorate the people and events that helped shape the Western New York region. The Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village in Amherst, NY, about 25 minutes from downtown Buffalo, offers a “living history” experience through their museum and walkable village.
I toured 10 of the buildings in the historic 35-acre village including churches, schoolhouses, a blacksmith, barber shop and the homes of some of Amherst’s most notable and influential families. The buildings were essentially picked up from their original sites, relocated and restored to their original glory in their current spaces. Now, they serve as centers dedicated to learning, interaction and preservation of the Town of Amherst, the Village of Williamsville and the Niagara Frontier’s rich history.
Because one of my tour companions was eight years old, I was able to experience the village through his eyes, and we did something that is becoming increasingly foreign to us in this age of techno-distractions – we imagined. We imagined what it would be like to be a student practicing cursive in small sandbox in a one-room schoolhouse. We imagined grinding coffee beans by hand, every day, because it’s the only option. And we imagined the customs, traditions and day-to-day interactions that influenced present-day Western New York.
Volunteer docents, or “interpreters” as their referred to, were staged at some of the buildings to provide us with information as well as nudge our imaginations a bit. Dressed in period clothing, cooks worked over cast iron stoves and blacksmiths demonstrated on a functioning forge much like they would have back in the 19th century.
Our last stop was the museum building which houses unique exhibits containing more than 50,000 objects, including clothing, furniture, photos, quilts and maps. We viewed artifacts from the War of 1812, strolled through a virtual “street of shops” from the 1880’s and saw a replica pioneer kitchen first-hand.
Tours through the village are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day, however the museum is open year-round and there are many seasonal events offered throughout the year, including the Harvest Education Day and Adult Field Trip in September as well as Halloween and Christmas events.
So, go ahead. Channel your inner eight-year-old and let your imagination run wild!
Feature image courtesy of Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village