The historic Village of Zoar, home to nearly 200 residents, is protected from flooding by a levee built in the 1930s. Record floods in 2005, however, raised concern about the levee’s integrity. Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has started a three-year study to assess the levee’s future. One of many alternatives under consideration is removing it entirely, which could require the relocation or demolition of 80% of this remarkable historic village.
The Village of Zoar was founded in 1817 by a group of separatists who fled Germany in search of religious freedom. Not only does Zoar help to tell the story of immigration to the United States, it illustrates the history of settlement throughout this region. As part of a multi-year study of alternatives for solving the Zoar levee problem, the Army Corps is following a review process that requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their activities on historic properties. Through the process, the Army Corps should seek alternatives that will protect Zoar.
- Save the Village of Zoar from catastrophic flooding, relocation, or demolition.
- Raise public awareness about Zoar’s historic significance.
Ways To Help
Written by Jennifer Sandy, Project Manager
The Village of Zoar’s best spring colors were on display for the May 15th visit of Paul Rubenstein, Federal Preservation Officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Paul is the national policy advisor and subject matter expert for Historic Preservation and Native American material culture issues for the Army Corps.
Staff from the National Trust joined Paul and other Army Corps representatives for an in-depth tour of the Village of Zoar, led by Mayor Larry Bell and Zoar Community Association President Jon Elsasser. We even got a sneak peek into the long-shuttered Zoar Hotel, which awaits a restoration and reuse plan.
Gaining a first-hand understanding of Zoar’s history and built environment is important to helping the Army Corps appreciate the implications of their decision about the future of Zoar levee. We were pleased that Paul was able to experience the Village of Zoar and will share his impressions with decision-makers in the Army Corps’ DC office.
Founded in 1817 by a group of separatists who fled Germany in search of religious freedom, the Village of Zoar in Ohio provides visitors with a captivating look into nineteenth century life in the United States. Tour the restored buildings, learn a hands-on craft, stroll through the garden, shop and dine, or stay overnight at a charming bed and breakfast—Zoar has something for everyone!
Celebrate the bounty of the harvest in Zoar with the 40th Annual Harvest Festival and Antique Show on August 3rd and 4th. Over 60 high-quality antique dealers and craftspeople will sell their wares, and all the museum buildings in Zoar will be open to the public. Visitors of all ages will enjoy wagon rides, food, and live music.
If you are a history buff, don't miss Ohio's largest and best Civil War reenactment, the Battle of Chickamauga on September 7th and 8th. Over 1200 reenactors converge in the Village of Zoar to showcase Civil War era life on the battlefield and the home front. Experience artillery and cavalry demonstrations, visit the museums, shop for unique reproduction items, enjoy food and entertainment, and attend the Civil War Ball.
Make Zoar your home base for a weekend exploring the Ohio countryside! Hike or bike the towpath trail, take a ride on a passenger train, shop and dine in Tuscarawas County’s unique small towns, or experience nearby Amish country. The Village of Zoar is located just outside Akron/Canton, with easy access off I-77, about an hour from Cleveland or an easy two hours from Pittsburgh and Columbus.
For more information on these and the other many events in Zoar this summer, visit the Zoar Community Association website.
Written by Jennifer Sandy, Project Manager
You wouldn’t necessarily think that the 3-inch think “Zoar Historic Property Baseline Study” prepared by Hardlines Design Company for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would make fascinating reading, but you would be mistaken—especially if you love history! Consultants from Hardlines Design spent months researching the Village of Zoar’s history, built environment, and landscape.
Their research paints a picture of a thriving, nearly self-sufficient community that captured the imagination of tourists and artists as early as the 1860s. Within 20 years of its founding in 1817, the Separatists of Zoar were selling products as varied as iron stoves, pottery, flour, cheese, wine, and dried apples to locations as far away as New York and Philadelphia. In addition to raising sheep, cows, horses, geese, and chickens, the Separatists planted fruit orchards in the middle of every block in town, and even developed two varieties of fruit, the Zoar Pear and the Zoar Sweeting Apple.
Visitors flocked to picturesque Zoar for picnics, boating, and relaxation. Cleveland artists known as the “Old Bohemians” established a summer art colony at Zoar, leaving a legacy of paintings primarily in the Impressionist style. The village became a regional art destination in the 1880s, hosting artists such as August Biehle and Frederick Gottwald. Remarkably, 83 buildings dating to the Separatist era remain in Zoar today, giving the visitor an authentic sense of 19th century life.
If you’re dying to read the “Zoar Historic Property Baseline Study,” now’s your chance. The public has until March 29th to submit comments to the Army Corps. You can find an Executive Summary of the Draft Historic Property Baseline Study and the Community Impacts Baseline Study on their website, and you can email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And don’t forget to let the Army Corps know that you support saving the Village of Zoar!
Written by Jennifer Sandy, Project Manager
Over the past several months, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been at work on a series of reports to help the agency better understand the Village of Zoar, including its history, buildings, environment, and community.
On the evening of March 7th, the Army Corps will present the findings of those studies at a public meeting at the Tusky Valley High School from 7:30-10:00 pm. They want to hear from you! Is their information correct? Can you add anything about particular Zoar buildings or the community of Zoar?
If you're not in the Zoar area and can't attend the meeting in person but still want to learn more, the Army Corps has posted an Executive Summary of the Draft Historic Property Baseline Study and the Community Impacts Baseline Study on their website, and you can email your comments to email@example.com. A Draft Terrestrial and Aquatic Habitat Baseline Study will also be available soon.
This is an important step that will help ensure that effects to historical, environmental, and community resources are considered during formulation, evaluation and comparison alternatives to address dam safety risks to Zoar Village. It's critical that the Army Corps has accurate baseline information-- so make your voice heard!
David McCann on February 28, 2013
Walking back in history - and a determined group of immigrants from Nassau - Province of Baden Wurttemberg Germany - my grandfather and grandmother (2X) coming to Zoar in 1854 - who believed in religious freedom having been persecuted by the Lutheran Church in the province. Both Johann Heinrich Pfeiffer and his wife Margaret Lauchs Pfeiffer would join the community and later realize the reward of their labors - later moving to Canal Dover and buying a farm. Their son - my great grandfather - John W. Pfeiffer - because of the hard work of his parents was able to attend the Hopedale Normal College where he would become a teacher coming, later, back to Tuscarawas County and commit his life to education. Without Zoar - without their being respect for religious freedom - there would be no story to tell. "Give me your tired... your poor... your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." So in saving Zoar - you are saving a light house - a beacon - a center of freedom for religious and economic freedom!
Diane Saxton on October 14, 2012
My daughter and I can mark our "great memories" timeline with visits to Zoar Village over the span of 15 years as she grew up. We've stayed in the bed and breakfasts there, gone to Harvest Festivals in August, and Christmas in Zoar celebrations. We've gone together to workshops at The Stamp Pad and The Zoar Schoolhouse, met other wonderful Zoarites at the Tavern and even attended the Civil War Reenactments. My daughter now is almost 40 and I am 70 and we will always treasure the village that helped us bond together. She is anxious to instill a love of history in her kids as I did in mine all those years ago. Please do not destory this little Tuscarawas JEWEL for future generations. Please find a solution to the Zoar Levee.
Leslie Graham on August 26, 2012
I love Zoar. What a fabulous treasure. The community garden is incredible and the buildings irreplaceable. Please help save Zoar. And if you are ever near Akron_canton take a drive to Zoar. You will be amazed. You don't have to go to Virginia or New England to go back 200 years. Check out Hudson while you are there. Settled in 1799 as part of the Connecticut Western Reserve...another treasure that always needs protecting.
J.S. on June 06, 2012
Visiting Zoar is like stepping back in time. Walking through the garden, visiting the restored houses and shops, learning about the community's fascinating history, you really begin to understand what life was like for the town's earliest settlers. Zoar must be saved so it can continue to tell its remarkable story.
Frank Quinn on June 06, 2012
It's amazing to think that places as special as Zoar, nearly 200 years old, still exist here in Ohio. When we work to preserve Zoar, we know we are honoring our predecessors' best efforts. We today have the honor and responsibility of stewarding this resource and maintaining the tangible link from past to future that we as preservationists strive toward.