CURRENT HOURS: AUG. 23-OCT. 20: Wed. - Sat. 9am - 4pm, Sun. Noon - 4pm

About Us

Mission Statement

Living History Farms is an interactive outdoor history museum which educates, entertains and connects people of all ages to Midwestern rural life experiences.

Vision Statement

Living History Farms will be a premier destination for people to experience rural traditions and create memories.

Living History Farms 45th Anniversary Brochure

45 Years of Living History Farms

45th Anniversary Timeline tri-fold brochure.*

*Also available at Admissions.

Print / download Brochure

Objectives

Public Understanding

Living History Farms seeks to enrich public understanding and to engage the public in consideration of the significance of past and present issues in agriculture and rural life.

Living History Interpretation

Living History Farms seeks to re-create the daily routines of representative historical years by means of “living history” interpretation. To accomplish this, LHF constructs authentic simulations of typical historical farm sites and a small town from time periods that illustrate major changes in agricultural technology, procedures and rural life.

Educational Enrichment

Living History Farms seeks to promote the history of agriculture and rural life through the enrichment of the educational curricula of preschool through college and adult education in both traditional and non-traditional settings.

1870
1967
1970
1979
1985
1997
2012
2015

1870

Martin & Ellen Flynn construct the Flynn Mansion

 
 
 
 
 
 
Martin Flynn, an Irish immigrant, made a small fortune in earth-moving work for railroad companies. Flynn purchased land in Walnut Township and the surrounding area, ending up with a 1500 acre farming operation. In 1870, Flynn constructed a 15 room mansion on the land, along with a large barn for grain, hay, and cattle. Martin and his wife Ellen raised 10 children at their Walnut Hill Farm.

1967

Living History Farms Foundation is established

 
 
 
 
 
 
Dr. William G. Murray dreamed of a working agricultural museum. He described it as “not just a dusty place where you see yesterday’s utensils and machinery under glass. You see things being used, a recreation of things in action, stretching from the past through the present and into the future.” Living History Farms was that vision. In 1967, Living History Farms Foundation was formed as a nonprofit institution.

1970

Living History Farms opens

 
 
 
 
 
 
The Living History Farms Foundation hired Darwin Thede as the first employee in 1970. Thede began construction of an 1840 farm including a pioneer log house and barn using trees from the Living History Farms property. That same year, a Grain Harvest Festival and then Corn Picking Contest were held—Living History Farms’ first public events. Over 5,000 people attended the Grain Harvest that year.

1979

Saint John Paul II visits

 
 
 
 
 
 
On October 4, 1979, Saint John Paul II visited Iowa and conducted an outdoor mass at Living History Farms. An estimated 340,000 pilgrims gathered on the grounds to hear the Saint’s homily on land stewardship and the farmers’ vocation. Exits from the state highways and Interstate 35/80 were closed and pilgrims walked miles just for the chance to gather and celebrate mass with Saint John Paul II.
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1985

Historic Dinners program begins

 
 
 
 
 
 
Living History Farms began Historic Dinner programs at the 1900-era farm house, starting in 1985. By 1995, these family-style meals were offered 9 times a week from November through mid-April. Today, we offer historic dinners at the 1900 Farm, 1875 Tangen Home, and Flynn Mansion.
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1997

Visitor Center is built

 
 
 
 
 
 
The current Living History Farms' Visitor Center was built in 1997. Prior to this, guests entered through gravel roads, parking lots, and farm sheds.

2012

President Barack Obama visits

 
 
 
 
 
 
An estimated 10,000 people turned out to see President Barack Obama at a campaign rally at Living History Farms on Saturday, September 1, 2012.

2015

New 1700 Ioway Farm Opens

 
 
 
 
 
 
The 1700 Ioway Farm was newly created in a different location in 2015, featuring a new orientation shelter, three types of Ioway homes, gardens, and native prairie grass. For the first time, all three of the museum’s working farm sites became completely accessible to all visitors.