Carter Historic Farm18331 Carter Road
Bowling Green, OH 43402
Carter Historic Farm
Carter Historic Farm is a 1930s farm museum, complete with livestock, farmhouse, and gardens. Visitors can also tour the 1890s Zimmerman Schoolhouse and the wetlands reclamation project on the property.
Carter Historic Farm is a restored farmstead relating the history of Depression-era Ohio. Guests can enjoy the park facilities, including short wooded trails, and tour the buildings of a working 1930s farm. The farmhouse was purchased by the Carter family in 1901 and passed down through the family until it was donated to the Wood County Park District. Now a living history museum, the home documents daily life for a farming family in the 1930s. Period implements and demonstrations in the kitchen give guests a peek at how women canned, cooked, and baked. In the parlor, a working player piano shows how the family may have relaxed in the evenings. Visitors can tour the house on weekends or take part in one of the many educational programs planned there throughout the year for adults, children, and groups.
Each building on the farmstead shows a different function of the farm. The barn and chicken coop house livestock, which include breeds common to Ohio farmers in the 1930s. A restored tractor and the tools in the grain barn show how crops were raised and processed on a small family farm, while the garden shows the work required to grow produce for the family’s use. The decade was a period of intense technological investment for many farmers, and Carter Farm preserves that history by documenting the many improvements added to the farm during these years.
The Carter Farm campus includes the Zimmerman Schoolhouse. Built in the 1890s, the schoolhouse offers an excellent example of a typical one-room schoolhouse, where local children were educated after their morning farm chores were complete. The Carter daughters Marguerite, Marcella, and Gertrude attended the nearby school in the early nineteen-teens. The Zimmerman Schoolhouse was in operation until 1923, when it was replaced through Ohio’s school consolidation efforts. Tours of the schoolhouse are available by appointment.
A 20-acre portion of the Carter Farm property houses a wetlands reclamation project in cooperation with the Black Swamp Conservancy. This site performs an important environmental function by filtering agricultural runoff before it reaches local waterways. Educational events in the wetlands show the challenge early Wood County settlers faced while converting the Great Black Swamp into usable farmland and the importance of wetlands to the Northwestern Ohio ecosystem.
Carter Historic Farm offers a valuable glance into a key decade of Ohio’s history. The Great Depression affected Ohioans dramatically. Ohio experienced a 37% unemployment rate by 1932, and in major cities like Cleveland and Toledo the rate was over 50%. Many Ohioans lost their cash savings when local and regional banks failed, making it difficult for farmers to pay mortgages and taxes on their land or payments on the new farming equipment they had invested in during the Roaring Twenties. The Carter family was fortunate to have paid off their farm before the Depression hit, and their reliance upon locally raised food and community networks helped them weather the thirties.
Notes for Travelers
Carter Historic Farm is located a short, scenic drive from Route 75 in Bowling Green. Touring the farm buildings and Zimmerman Schoolhouse requires outdoor walking and the farmhouse is reached by a short flight of steps. The farmhouse is air conditioned. While the grounds are open daily as part of the Wood County Park District, the historical tours available on the weekends bring added depth to the experience. As a working 1930s farm, the animals on the premises can be viewed any time the park grounds are open but should not be touched or fed.
Additional ResourcesKyvig, David E. Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1924: How Americans Lived through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2002.
Messer-Kruse, Timothy. Banksters, Bosses, and Smart Money: A Social History of the Toledo Bank Crash of 1931. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 2004.
Wiltse, Charles M. Birkner, Michael J., ed. Prosperity Far Distant: The Journal of an American Farmer, 1933-1934. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2012.