The exhibit may be viewed in the Main Library Business & Government Division (located on the third floor), at 60 S. High St in downtown Akron during regular library hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.
Like many utopian communities of the 19th century, Zoar was founded by religious separatists fleeing persecution in their home countries throughout Europe. The German Separatists who founded Zoar fled their homeland of Württemberg and, in 1817 arrived on the banks of the Tuscarawas River in northeast Ohio to build a communal settlement that would last until 1898.
The Separatists thrived on agriculture but also applied their work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit to other endeavors, such as helping to construct a portion of the Ohio and Erie Canal, creating a “Zoar-style” of furniture for export and building a popular tourist destination for weekenders in the mid-1800s.
In addition to highlighting these and other aspects of Zoar life, the exhibit includes a three-dimensional replica of the Zoar Garden – a 2.4-acre, scripture-inspired meditative space that remains the centerpiece of the village today. Zoar artifacts including furniture, tools, pottery and art will also be on display.
Following the Akron tour, the exhibit will travel to other major communal settlements: in the Harmony Society sites of Old Economy Village and Harmony, Penn., as well as the Amana Colonies in Iowa and the Oneida Community in New York.
Today, Zoar is home to approximately 75 families living in houses built from 1817 to present. Zoar’s historical district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was named a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2016. Dozens of village structures featuring German and European building traditions have been painstakingly preserved through the collaborative efforts of the Zoar Community Association and the Ohio History Connection.