Sauder Village
Schoolhouse
Cabinet Maker Shop
(and Cabinet Maker)
Broom Shop
This is the original
Sauder Furniture shop.
Hungarian Wagon
   Last winter I went to Wauseon, Ohio, for the first time in my life to visit my aunt and uncle at their new house.  Shortly after getting off the Ohio Turnpike I saw a sign pointing to Sauder Village and something in my memory clicked.  First, I suddenly remembered the existence of the place, and, second, I thought it had a restaurant someone once recommended to me.  I asked my aunt about and she said, yes, Sauder did run something called the Barn Restaurant.  I suggested we eat there, and we did.
   The restaurant, at which we had a superb lunch from its buffet, consists of just one of many buildings that make up the Sauder Village complex.  Other buildings include the Sauder Heritage Inn, a Sauder outlet store, the Doughbox Bakery, and the Welcome Center.  After lunch we wandered over to this last in which we found a gift shop and one room museum giving you an overview of Sauder Furniture’s history.  From the Welcome Center I could see the village beyond.  Although closed for the season, it peaked my interest enough that I decided to return to check it out.
   The view of the village out the center’s window consisted of nine buildings in a half circle.  As my traveling companions and I headed up to it, I assured them it would take no more than two hours to see the whole thing.  Upon arrival I suffered from sticker shock.  It cost $16 to get for adults, $14 for Seniors and those with AAA memberships.  (Students ages 6-16 get in for $10, and children under 5 for free.  The village offers even better deals for veterans and their families.)  Well, I hadn’t just driven for an hour and a half just to turn around, so I reluctantly forked over the money and went in.
   Someone told us to follow the buildings by their numbers, so we began with number 1, Erie’s Farm Shop, in which we met our first costumed interpreter.  Having visited countless historical places with such people over the years, I can safety say their knowledge often varies from person to person, and, in some of the smaller places, that doesn’t go very far.  Here the interpreter pelted us with the history of how Sauder Furniture started, and if you asked her questions, she didn’t blink an eye before answering.  The village interpreters, I quickly discovered, must go through extensive training because they all knew their stuff, and knew it well.
   After wandering through a few buildings, it soon became apparent why we paid so much to get in:  the village’s size looked deceptively small when you enter, but it in fact sprawls over a large area and contains no less than forty historical buildings to visit.  After finishing our lunch, we didn’t enter the village until something like 1:30 in the afternoon, and it quickly became apparent we would have to stay more than the planned two hours.
   Almost all the buildings are authentic to the period they represent, and most came from the immediate area.  The time period runs from the 1840s to about 1910, with the majority of the original buildings representing the 1880s and the outer ones the 1840s.  When the village opened in 1976, it contained the nine buildings I saw in the half circle when we first walked in, and has since expanded.  Some of the buildings have air conditioning and others don’t, so if you go on a hot day and get to feeling the ill effects of the heat, you will readily find a cool refuge.
   I enjoy visiting historical sites in part because I love seeing real artifacts and historical buildings, and I hope to learn new things.  Here I certainly did.  At Doctor McGuffin’s office, for example, the interpreter showed us intimidating looking instrument doctors used to extract tonsils, and I picked up a list of 1887 rules floor nurses for a hospital had to follow.  Among them:  “Graduate nurses in good standing will be given an evening off each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if you go regularly to church” and “Any nurse who smokes, uses liquor in any form, gets her hair done at a beauty shop, or frequents dance halls will give the director of nurses good reason to suspect her worth, intentions, and integrity.”  As if this doesn’t sound harsh enough, it took a nurse in good standing five years to earn a mere nickel raise per week.